Heyne v. Mitsubishi Motors North America et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - Plaintiff shall have until April 29, 2013, to file an amended complaint that gives Defendants fair notice of what his claims against them are and the grounds upon which they rest. Plaintiff shall have until April 29, 2013, to file sufficient evidence with the court showing that the amount in controversy is greater than $75,000.00, the jurisdictional amount. The Clerk of the court is directed to set a pro se case management deadline in this matter with the follo wing text: April 29, 2013: deadline for Plaintiff to file amended complaint and show jurisdictional amount by preponderance of evidence. The court reserves the right to conduct further review of Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) after Plaintiff addresses the matters set forth in this Memorandum and Order. Ordered by Judge John M. Gerrard. (Copy e-mailed to pro se party)(GJG)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
TODD M. HEYNE,
MITSUBISHI MOTORS NORTH
AMERICA, Inc., MITSUBISHI
MOTORS CORPORATION, (Parent
INSURANCE COMPANY OF
MITSUBISHI MOTORS NORTH
AMERICA INC., and UNKNOWN
INSURANCE COMPANY OF
Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on December 10, 2012. (Filing No.
1.) Plaintiff has been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Filing No. 5.) The
court now conducts an initial review of the Complaint to determine whether summary
dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter against Mitsubishi Motors North
America and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (together, “Mitsubishi”), and two
unknown insurance companies. (Filing No. 1.) Though unclear, it appears that
Plaintiff alleges Mitsubishi is a Japanese corporation with its principal place of
business in Cypress, California. (See list of addresses at Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p.
1.) Plaintiff resides in Omaha, Nebraska. (Id.)
Condensed and summarized, Plaintiff alleges that he was involved in a motor
vehicle accident on December 7, 2008, in Omaha, Nebraska. Plaintiff sustained
injuries because the air bag in his 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer failed to deploy. On the
day of the accident, Plaintiff was treated, prescribed pain medication, and then
released. He later received physical therapy. He now suffers from “various degrees
of pain on a near constant basis.” (Id. at CM/ECF p. 1.) As relief, he seeks
$75,001.00 for general damages, and as compensation for his pain and suffering. (Id.
at CM/ECF p. 5.)
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must
dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim,
that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Pro se plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be
dismissed” for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct.
1937, 1950 (2009) (“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.”). Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented
or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff’s complaint must allege specific facts sufficient
to state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985).
However, a pro se plaintiff’s allegations must be construed liberally. Burke v. North
Dakota Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-44 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
General Rules of Pleading
Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to comply with the general rules of pleading set forth
in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Rule 8 requires that every complaint contain
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). A complaint must state enough to “‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp., 550 U.S. at 555)).
Here, the court cannot determine with any certainty Plaintiff’s basis for suing
Defendants. Generally, he alleges only that the air bag in his 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer
failed to deploy, and his Internet research has led him to believe that “airbag
deployment failure” in Lancers is common. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 3.) While
it appears that this is a product liability action, this is unclear from the face of the
Complaint. For example, if this is a product liability action, Plaintiff does not allege
how the product was defective, or whether he alleges negligence or strict liability.
See Wedgewood v. U.S. Filter/Whittier, Inc., No. A-09-1280, 2011 WL 2150102, *7
(Neb. Ct. App. May 31, 20122) (“There is a significant distinction [under Nebraska
law] between a manufacturer’s liability as the result of negligent manufacture and its
liability for the manufactured product on account of strict liability in tort.”) On the
court’s own motion, the court will give Plaintiff 30 days in which to file an amended
complaint that gives Defendants fair notice of what his claims against them are and
the grounds upon which they rest.
Amount in Controversy
The court is not convinced that it has subject-matter jurisdiction over this
action. Plaintiff alleges subject-matter jurisdiction exists pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332, commonly referred to as “diversity of citizenship” jurisdiction. Under §
1332, the citizenship of each plaintiff must be different from the citizenship of each
defendant. Ryan v. Schneider Nat’l. Carriers, Inc., 263 F.3d 816, 819 (8th Cir. 2001)
(citing § 1332(a)). In addition, the amount in controversy must be greater than
$75,000.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Where a complaint “alleges a sufficient amount
in controversy to establish diversity jurisdiction, but . . . the court questions whether
the amount alleged is legitimate, the party invoking federal jurisdiction must prove
the requisite amount by a preponderance of the evidence.” Trimble v. Asarco, Inc.,
232 F.3d 946, 959 (8th Cir. 2000) (quotation omitted) (abrogated on other grounds
by Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546 (2005)).
Here, Plaintiff’s citizenship is different from that of each named Defendant,
and Plaintiff alleges the amount in controversy is over $75,000.00. (Filing No. 1 at
CM/ECF p. 5.) However, the court has doubts about whether the alleged amount in
controversy is legitimate where Plaintiff was “treated and released” on the day of the
accident and received some physical therapy. Thus, in accordance with Trimble, the
court will require Plaintiff to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the
amount claimed is legitimate, and that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. See
Trimble, 232 F.3d at 959-960. This matter will not proceed until Plaintiff does so.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
Plaintiff shall have until April 29, 2013, to file an amended complaint
that gives Defendants fair notice of what his claims against them are and the grounds
upon which they rest.
Plaintiff shall have until April 29, 2013, to file sufficient evidence with
the court showing that the amount in controversy is greater than $75,000.00, the
The Clerk of the court is directed to set a pro se case management
deadline in this matter with the following text: April 29, 2013: deadline for Plaintiff
to file amended complaint and show jurisdictional amount by preponderance of
The court reserves the right to conduct further review of Plaintiff’s
claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) after Plaintiff addresses the matters set
forth in this Memorandum and Order.
DATED this 28th day of March, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
s/ John M. Gerrard
United States District Judge
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