Anilus v. ACLU of Massachusetts
Judge Allison D. Burroughs: ORDER entered. Anilus shall, within 35 days of the date of this order, show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In other words, he must demonstrate either that (1) his c laim arises under federal law; or (2) the parties are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Failure to comply with this directive may result in dismissal of the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Copy of order sent to plaintiff by first-class mail on 7/27/2017.)(PSSA, 3)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
ACLU OF MASSACHUSETTS,
C.A. No. 17-11332-ADB
July 27, 2017
For the reasons set forth below, the Court directs the plaintiff to show cause why this
action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
On July 19, 2017, Maxo Anilus filed a pro se complaint [ECF No. 1] against the
American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (“ACLUm”). Although the plaintiff’s theory
of liability is not entirely clear, the thrust of the action appears to be that the ACLUm failed to
properly represent him in regards to claims he wanted pursued on his behalf. Anilus further
alleges that the ACLUm prevented other attorneys from taking the case and failed to return
important documents to him.
A court has an obligation to inquire sua sponte into its own subject matter jurisdiction.
See McCulloch v. Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2004). Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction,
“and the requirement of subject-matter jurisdiction ‘functions as a restriction on federal power.’”
Fafel v. Dipaola, 399 F.3d 403, 410 (1st Cir. 2005) (quoting Insurance Corp. of Ireland v.
Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)). “The existence of subjectmatter jurisdiction ‘is never presumed.’” Fafel, 399 F.3d at 410 (quoting Viqueira v. First Bank,
140 F.3d 12, 16 (1st Cir. 1998)). Rather, federal courts “must satisfy themselves that subjectmatter jurisdiction has been established.” Id. “If the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
Federal district courts may exercise jurisdiction over civil actions arising under federal
laws. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“§ 1331”). They also have jurisdiction over certain actions in
which the parties are of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332 (“§ 1332”). For purposes of § 1332, a party is a citizen of the state in which he
is domiciled. See Garcia Perez v. Santaella, 364 F.3d 348, 350 (1st Cir. 2004). A corporation is
a citizen of every state in which it has been incorporated and the state in which it has its principal
place of business. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1).
Here, it does not appear that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter.
Anilus has not identified, and the Court cannot discern, a claim arising under federal law. Thus,
subject matter jurisdiction under § 1331 does not exist.
Further, subject matter jurisdiction under § 1332 is also absent. Anilus represents that he
resides in Massachusetts, and many of the exhibits attached to his complaint show that he has
used a Massachusetts address for years. According to the complaint, the ACLUm is located in
Massachusetts. Further, publically-available state records indicate that the ACLUm was
organized in Massachusetts in 2001. 1 Because it appears that the plaintiff and the defendant are
citizens of Massachusetts, § 1332 does not give the Court jurisdiction over this action.
See Business Entity Summary for American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Inc.,
which can be found on the web page of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Accordingly, Anilus shall, within 35 days of the date of this order, show cause why this
action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In other words, he must
demonstrate either that (1) his claim arises under federal law; or (2) the parties are of diverse
citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Failure to comply with this directive
may result in dismissal of the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
/s/ Allison D. Burroughs
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CH_TYPE=1 (last viewed July 26, 2017).
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