ORDER DISMISSING AMENDED COMPLAINT.. Signed by Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr on 5/16/2017. (ail) NOTICE: If there are sealed documents in this case, they may be unsealed after 1 year or as directed by Court Order, unless they have been designated to be permanently sealed. See Local Rule 5.4 and Administrative Order 2014-69.
United States District Court
Southern District of Florida
Ronald Freeman, Plaintiff,
PNC Bank, N.A., Defendant.
) Civil Action No. 16-62520-Civ-Scola
Order Dismissing Amended Complaint
Ronald Freeman, proceeding in forma pauperis, brings this lawsuit
against PNC Bank, N.A. (“PNC”) for money that PNC allegedly owes him. This
matter is before the Court on the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted (ECF No. 18). For the reasons
set forth in this Order, the Court dismisses the Amended Complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
Freeman brings this action under Article 3, Section 2 of the United
States Constitution. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 16.) Freeman alleges that PNC
owes him $5,500, plus interest, “for money received by PNC via deposit of
private contract #118” and “private contract #122” to Freeman’s account,
which Freeman alleges was payable to him “in consideration of work performed
in the State of Florida.” (Id. ¶¶ 4-5.) Freeman states that he “had a reasonable
expectation that PNC Bank would pay the debts due to me in gold coin or the
bullion market value of gold coin. . .” and alleges that PNC has improperly
seized his property. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.)
Freeman filed a complaint on October 25, 2016 (ECF No. 1). PNC
subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim
(ECF No. 14.) Freeman failed to respond to the motion to dismiss, and the
Court ordered Freeman to file a response or show cause why he failed to
comply (ECF No. 15). On February 14, 2017, Freeman filed an Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 16). PNC has moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (ECF No. 18). The Court
has determined that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this
2. Legal Standard
A district court must have at least one of three types of subject-matter
jurisdiction: (1) jurisdiction pursuant to a specific statutory grant; (2) federal
question jurisdiction; or (3) diversity jurisdiction. Butler v. Morgan, 562 Fed.
App’x. 832, 834 (11th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). “The burden for
establishing federal subject matter jurisdiction rests with the party bringing the
claim.” Sweet Pea Marine, Ltd. v. APJ Marine, Inc., 411 F.3d 1242, 1247 (11th
Cir. 2005). “[F]ederal courts always have an obligation to examine sua sponte
their jurisdiction before reaching the merits of any claim.” Kelly v. Harris, 331
F.3d 817, 819 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Region 8 Forest Serv. Timber Purchasers
Council v. Alcock, 993 F.2d 800, 807 n. 9 (11th Cir. 1993)).
A court may dismiss a federal question claim “for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction if (1) the alleged claim under the Constitution or federal statutes
clearly appears to be immaterial and made solely for the purpose of obtaining
jurisdiction, or (2) such a claim is wholly insubstantial and frivolous.” Butler v.
Morgan, 562 Fed. App’x. 832, 834 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (citing Blue
Cross & Blue Shield of Ala. V. Sanders, 138 F.3d 1347, 1352 (11th Cir. 1998));
see also Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682-83 (1946) (noting that although
typically a court must assume jurisdiction in order to determine whether a
complaint states a cause of action, “a suit may sometimes be dismissed for
want of jurisdiction where the alleged claim under the Constitution or federal
statutes clearly appears to be immaterial. . . or where such a claim is wholly
insubstantial and frivolous.”); McGinnis v. Ingram Equipment Co., Inc., 918 F.2d
1491, 1494 (11th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted) (“[t]he test of federal jurisdiction
is not whether the cause of action is one on which the claimant may recover.
Rather, the test is whether ‘the cause of action alleged is so patently without
merit as to justify. . . the court’s dismissal for want of jurisdiction.’”) A claim is
wholly insubstantial and frivolous if it has no plausible foundation. Butler, 562
Fed. App’x. at 834.
In addition, a district court may dismiss a case proceeding in forma
pauperis at any time if it determines that the action is frivolous or fails to state
a claim on which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i); see also
Broner v. Washington Mut. Bank, FA, 258 Fed. App’x. 254, 256 (11th Cir. 2007).
“A claim is frivolous if it is without arguable merit either in law or fact.” Id.
(citing Bilal v. Driver, 251 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11th Cir. 2001) (internal quotations
Since the Amended Complaint seeks judgment in the amount of $5,500
plus interest, Freeman has not sufficiently alleged that diversity jurisdiction
exists. See 12 U.S.C. § 1332(a) (requiring that the amount in controversy
exceed the value of $75,000 exclusive of interest and costs to establish
diversity jurisdiction). Freeman has also not sufficiently established that
federal question jurisdiction exists or that jurisdiction exists pursuant to a
specific statutory grant. The Amended Complaint cites to Article 3, Section 2 of
the Constitution, which states that the judicial power extends to all cases
arising under the Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties
made under their authority. This provision of the Constitution confers subject
matter jurisdiction on federal district courts over civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
However, since Freeman has cited to no Constitutional provision, federal law,
or treaty that authorizes this suit, Freeman has not established that this Court
has subject matter jurisdiction.
Freeman also includes the following quote from Article 1, Section 10 of
the Constitution in the Amended Complaint: “No State shall; make any Thing
but gold or silver coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any bill of Attainder,
ex post facto law impairing the obligation of contracts.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 6A, ECF
No. 16.) However, as PNC notes in its motion to dismiss, Congress suspended
the gold standard in 1933. H.J.R. Res. 192, 73d Cong., (1st Session 1933).
Freeman also cites to the Supremacy Clause, the Appropriations Clause, and
the Fourteenth Amendment, none of which have any relation to the factual
allegations in the Amended Complaint. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 6B, 6C, 6D, ECF No.
16.) Finally, the Amended Complaint cites to Title 38 of the Florida Statutes.
(Id. ¶ 8.) However, Title 38 is a state law concerning disqualification of judges
and is inapplicable to this matter.
Thus, even under the less stringent standards applied to pro se
pleadings, the Amended Complaint is frivolous because Freeman’s claims are
wholly insubstantial and have no plausible legal basis that would confer
subject matter jurisdiction on this Court.
Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Amended Complaint because the
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The Court denies all pending motions
as moot and directs the Clerk to close this case.
Done and ordered in chambers, at Miami, Florida, on May 16, 2017.
Robert N. Scola, Jr.
United States District Judge
1900 W. Oakland Park Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33310
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