Pike Grain Company Inc v. Peters et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL re: 10 ORDERED that Defendant United States of America's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. [Doc. 10] FURTHER ORDERED that Counts I, III, and V against the United States of America are DISMISSED without prejudice. FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), the Courtdeclines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and the remaining state law claims are REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Pike County, Missouri, from which this matter was removed. cc: Circuit Ct. of Pike Co, MO Case Termed. Signed by Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker on 7/24/13. (CEL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
PIKE GRAIN COMPANY, INC.,
DAVID PETERS, et al.,
Case No. 2:13-CV-51 NAB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL
This matter is before the Court on Defendant United States of America’s (“Government”)
Motion to Dismiss. [Doc. 10.] The Government seeks dismissal of counts I, III, and V of the
Complaint asserting that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over all three counts and
Plaintiff fails to plead facts that demonstrate it is entitled to relief.
Plaintiff Pike Grain
Company, Inc. filed a response asserting that it filed suit against Defendant David Peters alone
and the Government requested to be joined to the case, removed the case to this court, and now
seeks dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims. [Doc. 14.] Plaintiff agrees, however, that it is appropriate
that the claims between Plaintiff and Defendant Peters be adjudicated in state court prior to any
litigation involving the Government. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the
undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). [Doc. 12.] Based on the
following, the Court will grant the Government’s Motion to Dismiss and remand the remaining
claims to state court.
Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant Peters in the Circuit Court of Pike County,
Missouri on November 21, 2012. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Petition for Quiet Title,
Prescriptive Easement, and Injunctive Relief on April 12, 2013 adding the Government as a
defendant. On June 5, 2013, the Government removed the action to this Court. The Government
then filed a Motion to Dismiss asserting lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a
claim on July 15, 2013. Plaintiff filed a response on July 22, 2013.
Standard of Review
“In every federal case the court must be satisfied that is has jurisdiction before it turns to
the merits of other legal arguments.” Carlson v. Arrowhead Concrete Works, Inc., 445 F.3d
1046, 1050 (8th Cir. 2006). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) requires dismissal if the
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a claim. To dismiss an action under Rule 12(b)(1),
the complaint must either be successfully challenged on the factual truthfulness of its assertions,
or successfully challenged on its face. Archdiocese of St. Louis, v. Sebelius, No. 4:12-CV-924
JAR, 2013 WL 328926 at *4 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 29, 2013). A court deciding a motion under Rule
12(b)(1) must distinguish between a facial attack and a factual attack on jurisdiction. Osborn v.
U.S., 918 F.2d 724, 729, n. 6 (8th Cir. 1990). In a facial attack, the court restricts itself to the face
of the pleadings and in a factual attack, the court considers matters outside the pleadings. Id.
Because the Government’s motion is a facial attack regarding jurisdiction, the non-moving party
receives the same protections it would have in defending a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). To
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678.
Count I- Quiet Title
The Government asserts that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Count I,
because Plaintiff fails to plead the Government’s interest with the particularity necessary to
waive sovereign immunity. Plaintiff’s Count I seeks to quiet title by adverse possession in land
currently owned by Defendant Peters.
“The basic rule of federal sovereign immunity is that the United States cannot be sued at
all without the consent of Congress.” Block v. North Dakota ex. rel. Bd. of Univ. and Sch.
Lands, 461 U.S. 273, 287 (1983). “A necessary corollary of this rule is that when Congress
attaches conditions to legislation waiving the sovereign immunity of the United States, those
conditions must be strictly observed, and exceptions thereto are not to be lightly implied.” Id.
The Quiet Title Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, sets forth conditions for suing the Government in
disputed title actions. The statute provides that in any action where the Government is named as
a party defendant in a civil action to adjudicate a disputed title to real property in which the
Government claims an interest, the complaint must set forth with particularity the nature of the
right, title, interest, which the plaintiff claims in the real property, the circumstances under which
it was acquired, and the right, title, or interest claimed by the United States.
In this action, it is clear that Plaintiff fails to plead with particularity the Government’s
right, title, or interest in the property. Plaintiff’s Second Amended Petition states the following:
“Defendant Peters attempted to convey some interest in Premises A to Defendant United States,
the exact nature and character of which is unknown to Plaintiff and cannot be described herein,
except that said claim is adverse and prejudicial to Plaintiff.” Second Am. Pet. ¶ 5. Because
Plaintiff is unable to describe with particularity the Government’s interest in the property at issue
with particularity, the provisions of the Quiet Title Act are not met. Thus, the requirements for
waiving the Government’s sovereign immunity have not been met and the Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction. The Court will grant the Government’s request to dismiss Count I against the
Count III- Injunctive Relief and Count V- Unlawful Taking
The Government claims that Plaintiff’s allegations under Counts III and Count V are not
ripe for adjudication, therefore, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. “The judicially
created doctrine of ripeness flows from both the Article III cases and controversies limitations
and also from prudential considerations for refusing to exercise jurisdiction.” Iowa League of
Cities v. E.P.A., 711 F.3d 844, 867 (8th Cir. 2013). The basic rationale of ripeness is to “prevent
the courts, through avoidance of premature adjudication, from entangling themselves in abstract
disagreements.” Nebraska Public Power Dist. v. MidAmerican Energy Co., 234 F.3d 1032, 1037
(8th Cir. 2000). “It requires that before a federal court may address itself to a question, there
must exist a real, substantial controversy between parties having adverse legal interests, a dispute
definite and concrete, not hypothetical or abstract.” Id. at 1037-38.
“Ripeness is peculiarly a question of timing and is governed by the situation at the time
of review, rather than the situation at the time of the events under review.” Iowa League, 711
F.3d at 867. “A party seeking review must show both the fitness of the issues for judicial
decision and the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration.” Id. “Both of these
factors are weighed on a sliding scale, but each must be satisfied to at least a minimal degree.”
In Count III, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to access and maintain the property at issue
and refrain the Defendants from altering or damaging the property in any way. Second Am. Pet.
p. 6. Count V alleges a claim of unlawful taking by the Government in violation of the Fifth
Amendment to the United States Constitution and requests that the Court declare all right, title,
and interest to Plaintiff and amend “any instrument purporting to transfer an interest in [the
property] to the [Government]. Second Am. Pet. pp. 8-9. The Government contends that
Plaintiff’s claims in Counts III and V are not ripe, because Plaintiff does not possess a property
interest and Count V does not include a compensation demand.
The Fifth Amendment prohibits the taking of private property for public use without just
compensation. U.S. Const. amend V. “A Fifth Amendment claim is premature until it is clear
that the Government has both taken the property and denied just compensation.” Horne v. Dep’t
of Agriculture, 133 S.Ct. 2053, 2062 (2013). There must be a final decision with respect to the
property at issue and the aggrieved party must seek compensation before the federal court can
assert jurisdiction. Dahlen v. Shelter House, 598 F.3d 1007, 1010 (8th Cir. 2010).
In this case, Plaintiff agrees that the issue of title to the property should be adjudicated
before Plaintiff can assert claims against the Government. Further, Plaintiff’s Petition did not
seek compensation regarding the taking of the property in Count V. Failure to satisfy that
requirement alone means that the claim is not ripe for review and the federal court lacks
jurisdiction to entertain the claim. Dahlen, 598 F.3d at 1010. Therefore, the Court will grant the
Government’s request to dismiss Counts III and V against the Government.
Remand of Remaining Claims to State Court
Because the Court has dismissed the claims against the Government, the only claims
remaining are state law claims between non-diverse defendants. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), the
court has supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims alleged in the petition. The district
court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction when, as in this case, it has dismissed all
claims over which it has original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
The district court
maintains discretion to either remand the state law claims or keep them in federal court. Lindsey
v. Dillard’s, Inc., 306 F.3d 596, 599 (8th Cir. 2002). In the interest of comity, the Court declines
to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant United States of America’s Motion to
Dismiss is GRANTED. [Doc. 10]
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Counts I, III, and V against the United States of
America are DISMISSED without prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), the Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and the remaining state law claims are
REMANDED to the Circuit Court of Pike County, Missouri, from which this matter was
Dated this 24th day of July, 2013.
/s/ Nannette A. Baker
NANNETTE A. BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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?