Atain Specialty Insurance Company v. T. Disney Trucking and Grading, Inc. et al
ORDER striking 18 Amended Complaint. Plaintiff shall file a second amended complaint curing the shotgun nature of the pleading and the jurisdictional deficiencies on or before January 28, 2022. See Order for details. Signed by Judge Marcia Morales Howard on 1/07/2022. (MHM)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
ATAIN SPECIALTY INSURANCE
Case No. 3:21-cv-1097-MMH-JBT
T. DISNEY TRUCKING AND
GRADING, INC., et al.,
THIS CAUSE is before the Court sua sponte. Federal courts are courts
of limited jurisdiction and therefore have an obligation to inquire into their
subject matter jurisdiction.
See Kirkland v. Midland Mortg. Co., 243 F.3d
1277, 1279-80 (11th Cir. 2001). This obligation exists regardless of whether
the parties have challenged the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See
Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[I]t is
well settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking.”).
“In a given case, a
federal district court must have at least one of three types of subject matter
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jurisdiction: (1) jurisdiction under a specific statutory grant; (2) federal question
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or (3) diversity jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).” Baltin v. Alaron Trading Corp., 128 F.3d 1466, 1469
(11th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff Atain Specialty Insurance Company initiated this action on
October 29, 2021, against Defendants T. Disney Trucking and Grading, Inc. and
Ruben Sanchez, by filing a one-count complaint for declaratory judgment. See
Plaintiff Atain Specialty Insurance Company’s Complaint for Declaratory
Judgment (Doc. 1; Initial Complaint). On December 27, 2021, with leave of
Court, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint in which it added an additional
Defendant, Laura E. Trujillo, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Carlos
L. Diaz (the Estate).
See Plaintiff Atain Specialty Insurance Company’s
Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment (Doc. 18; Amended Complaint).
In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because “the parties
are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy, exclusive of
interest and costs, exceeds $75,000.” See Amended Complaint ¶ 9. However,
upon review, the Court is unable to determine whether it has diversity
jurisdiction over this action because Plaintiff fails to properly allege the
citizenship of the Estate.
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In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that “Mrs. Trujillo is
domiciled in Miami-Dade County, Florida and is a citizen of Florida.”
Amended Complaint ¶ 6. However, Laura E. Trujillo is named in this lawsuit
in her capacity as personal representative of the Estate of Carlos L. Diaz.
When an individual acts in a representative capacity for one who is deceased,
that individual is deemed to be a citizen of the state of which the deceased was
a citizen at the time of death. Palmer v. Hosp. Auth. of Randolph Cnty., 22
F.3d 1559, 1562 n.1 (11th Cir. 1994); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2). Thus, “[w]here an
estate is a party, the citizenship that counts for diversity purposes is that of the
decedent, and [he] is deemed to be a citizen of the state in which [he] was
domiciled at the time of [his] death.” King v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 505 F.3d
1160, 1170 (11th Cir. 2007). Because the Amended Complaint fails to allege
the citizenship of Carlos L. Diaz at the time of his death, the Court finds that
Plaintiff has not alleged the facts necessary to establish the Court’s jurisdiction
over this case.
In addition, the Court finds that the Amended Complaint constitutes an
impermissible “shotgun pleading.”
A shotgun complaint contains “multiple
counts where each count adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing
each successive count to carry all that came before and the last count to be a
combination of the entire complaint.”
See Weiland v. Palm Beach Cnty.
Sheriff’s Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1321 & n.11 (11th Cir. 2015) (collecting cases).
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As a result, “most of the counts . . . contain irrelevant factual allegations and
legal conclusions.” Strategic Income Fund, L.L.C. v. Spear, Leeds & Kellogg
Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11th Cir. 2002). Consequently, in ruling on the
sufficiency of a claim, the Court is faced with the onerous task of sifting out
irrelevancies in order to decide for itself which facts are relevant to a particular
cause of action asserted. See id. Here, Count II of the Amended Complaint
incorporates by reference all allegations of the preceding count. See Amended
Complaint ¶ 42.
In the Eleventh Circuit, shotgun pleadings of this sort are “altogether
unacceptable.” Cramer v. State of Fla., 117 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 1997);
see also Cook v. Randolph County, 573 F.3d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir. 2009) (“We
have had much to say about shotgun pleadings, none of which is favorable.”)
(collecting cases). Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has engaged in a “thirty-year
salvo of criticism aimed at shotgun pleadings, and there is no ceasefire in sight.”
See Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1321 & n.9 (collecting cases). As the Court in Cramer
recognized, “[s]hotgun pleadings, whether filed by plaintiff or defendant, exact
an intolerable toll on the trial court’s docket, lead to unnecessary and
unchanneled discovery, and impose unwarranted expense on the litigants, the
court and the court’s parajudicial personnel and resources.” Cramer, 117 F.3d
at 1263. When faced with the burden of deciphering a shotgun pleading, it is
the trial court’s obligation to strike the pleading on its own initiative, and force
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the plaintiff to replead to the extent possible under Rule 11, Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. See id. (admonishing district court for not striking shotgun
complaint on its own initiative); see also Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1321 n.10 (“[W]e
have also advised that when a defendant fails to [move for a more definite
statement], the district court ought to take the initiative to dismiss or strike the
shotgun pleading and give the plaintiff an opportunity to replead.”).
In light of the foregoing, the Court will give Plaintiff an opportunity to
file a second amended complaint which properly establishes diversity of
citizenship between the parties such that this Court has jurisdiction over this
action and corrects the shotgun nature of the pleading. Accordingly, it is
1. Plaintiff Atain Specialty Insurance Company’s Amended Complaint
for Declaratory Judgment (Doc. 18) is STRICKEN.
2. Plaintiff shall file a second amended complaint curing the shotgun
nature of the pleading and the jurisdictional deficiencies on or before
January 28, 2022. Failure to do so may result in a dismissal of this
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3. Defendants shall respond to the second amended complaint in
accordance with the requirements of Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of
DONE AND ORDERED in Jacksonville, Florida this 7th day of
Counsel of Record
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