State of Georgia ex. rel., et al v. $26,400.00 Lawful U. S. Currency et al
OPINION AND ORDER REMANDING this action to the Superior Court of Banks County. Signed by Judge William S. Duffey, Jr on 10/10/17. (ddm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
STATE OF GEORGIA ex rel. Brad
Smith, District Attorney, Piedmont
$26,400 LAWFUL U.S. Currency,
Defendant, in rem
RE: FREDRICK JAMILLE
BROWN, Purported Owners
OPINION AND ORDER
On August 22, 2017, pro se Defendant Frederick Jamille Brown
(“Defendant”) removed this state forfeiture action from the Superior Court of
Banks County .
Federal courts “have an independent obligation to determine whether
subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any
party.” Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 501 (2006). The Eleventh Circuit
consistently has held that “a court should inquire into whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in the proceedings. Indeed, it is well
settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte whenever it may be lacking.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999). “Federal courts exercise limited jurisdiction
and generally can hear only actions that either meet the requirements for diversity
jurisdiction or that involve a federal question.” Kivisto v. Kulmala, 497 F. App’x
905, 906 (11th Cir. 2012).
Diversity jurisdiction exists where the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000 and the suit is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C § 1332(a).
“[F]ederal-question jurisdiction may be based on a civil action alleging a violation
of the Constitution, or asserting a federal cause of action established by a
congressionally created expressed or implied private remedy for violations of a
federal statute.” Jairath v. Dyer, 154 F.3d 1280, 1282 (11th Cir. 1998). “The
removing party bears the burden of proof regarding the existence of federal subject
matter jurisdiction.” City of Vestavia Hills v. Gen. Fidelity Ins. Co., 676 F.3d
1310, 1313 n.1 (11th Cir. 2012).
The Court lacks federal question jurisdiction here because Plaintiff’s
Complaint asserts no more than a state-law claim for forfeiture, and Defendant’s
reliance on federal law, in his defenses or counterclaims, does not confer subject
matter jurisdiction over this action. It is well-settled that federal-question
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of a
plaintiff’s well-pleaded complaint and that the assertions of defenses or
counterclaims based on federal law cannot confer federal question jurisdiction over
a cause of action. See Beneficial Nat’l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003);
Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 830-32
(2002). Defendant also has not established diversity jurisdiction because the
parties appear to be Georgia citizens and the amount in controversy is
approximately $30,000. Defendant has not shown that the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this state forfeiture proceeding, and this action is required to be
remanded to the Superior Court of Banks County.
For the foregoing reasons,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this action is REMANDED to the
Superior Court of Banks County.
SO ORDERED this 10th day of October, 2017.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?