Baker et al v. Mortage of America Lenders, LLC
ORDER re 30 Motion to Dismiss. Defendant's motion to dismiss, dkt. no. 30, is CONVERTED into a motion for summary judgment. The Parties are ORDERED, within thirty (30) days from today's date, to engage in discovery limited to the issue of Plaintiffs' standing. All other discovery and pretrial deadlines will be STAYED during this time. Defendant shall have sixty (60) days from today's date to file any supplemental evidence and briefing relating to Plaintiff's standing. Plaintiff shall have fourteen (14) days after the supplemental briefs are file to respond. Signed by Judge Lisa G. Wood on 1/8/2021. (ca)
Case 2:20-cv-00003-LGW-BWC Document 34 Filed 01/08/21 Page 1 of 5
In the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Georgia
GAYLE BAKER; DONALD J.
BRUNELLE; JUDITH A. BRUNELLE;
JANE FRASER; BURKE MCCALL
HARRISON; VICKI S. HARRISON;
JUDITH C. PHILLIPS; RENEE J.
WILLIAMSON; and ROBERT W.
John E. Triplett, Acting Clerk
United States District Court
By CAsbell at 2:18 pm, Jan 08, 2021
MORTGAGE OF AMERICA LENDERS,
This case is before the Court on Defendant Mortgage of America
Lenders, LLC’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
Dkt. No. 30.
attempting to bring a citizen suit under the provisions of the
Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. § 1365(a), as a result of damages
they allegedly incurred from Defendant’s residential development
of Captain’s Cove on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Dkt. No. 28.
CWA permits “any citizen [to] commence a civil action on his own
behalf against any person . . . who is alleged to be in violation
of (A) an effluent standard or limitation under [the CWA] or (B)
Case 2:20-cv-00003-LGW-BWC Document 34 Filed 01/08/21 Page 2 of 5
an order issued by the Administrator or a State with respect to
such a standard or limitation.”
both injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as damages.
In their briefs, the Parties focus on the jurisdictional issue
of whether Plaintiffs have standing to bring this suit. “In the
absence of standing, a court is not free to opine in an advisory
capacity about the merits of a plaintiff's claims.”
Town of Ponce Inlet, 405 F.3d 964, 974 (11th Cir. 2005).
entitled to have the court decide the merits of the dispute or of
District courts are “empowered to hear only those cases within the
judicial power of the United States as defined by Article III of
Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d
405, 409 (11th Cir.1999).
“Standing is a doctrine that ‘stems
directly from Article III's “case or controversy” requirement,’
Bochese, 405 F.3d at 974 (quoting Nat'l Parks Conservation Ass'n
v. Norton, 324 F.3d 1229, 1242 (11th Cir.2003)). “[A]s with any
jurisdictional requisite, we are powerless to hear a case when it
“[O]nce a federal court determines that it is
without subject matter jurisdiction, the court is powerless to
Id. at 974-75.
“[A] court should inquire into whether
Case 2:20-cv-00003-LGW-BWC Document 34 Filed 01/08/21 Page 3 of 5
it has subject matter jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage
in the proceedings.”
Id. at 975.
Plaintiffs’ amended complaint and attachments thereto allege
activities under the CWA, resulting in environmental harm to the
Some of the documents attached to the amended
complaint reference action taken by the Environmental Protection
Agency (“EPA”) against Defendant for, it appears, the very action
Whether the EPA’s involvement has concluded or is continuing is
After analyzing the amended complaint and the Parties’
information, whether the EPA’s action against Defendant precludes
Plaintiffs’ civil suit pursuant to subsection 1365(b)(1)(B) of the
That section provides that no suit may be brought under
§ 1365(a) “if the Administrator or State has commenced and is
diligently prosecuting a civil or criminal action in a court of
the United States, or a State to require compliance with the
standard, limitation, or order . . . .”
33 U.S.C. § 1365(b)(1)(B).
The Court is also unable to ascertain, without further information,
whether Plaintiffs, personally and individually, indeed suffered
injury as a result of Defendant’s actions.
“It is within the judge's discretion to decide whether to
consider matters outside of the pleadings that are presented to
Case 2:20-cv-00003-LGW-BWC Document 34 Filed 01/08/21 Page 4 of 5
Jones v. Auto. Ins. Co. of Hartford, Conn., 917 F.2d
1528, 1531–32 (11th Cir. 1990).
Because the Court needs further
discretion to convert Defendant’s motion to dismiss into a motion
for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
When a district court converts a motion to dismiss into a
motion for summary judgment, it must comply with the requirements
of Rule 56 by notifying the parties of the conversion and providing
Trustmark Ins. Co. v. ESLU, Inc., 299 F.3d 1265,
1267 (11th Cir. 2002).
Here, the Court will go a step further.
The Parties are ORDERED, within thirty (30) days from today’s date,
All other discovery and pretrial deadlines will be
STAYED during this time.
Defendant shall have sixty (60) days
from today’s date to file any supplemental evidence and briefing
relating to Plaintiffs’ standing.
Plaintiffs shall have fourteen
(14) days after the supplemental briefs are filed to respond.
Plaintiffs are advised that they cannot carry their burden on
summary judgment by relying on their amended complaint or by making
Rather, they must respond with affidavits
Case 2:20-cv-00003-LGW-BWC Document 34 Filed 01/08/21 Page 5 of 5
or other evidence as provided by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Defendant’s motion to dismiss, dkt. no. 30, is CONVERTED into
a motion for summary judgment.
SO ORDERED, this 8th day of January, 2021.
HON. LISA GODBEY WOOD, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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