Stuart v. Stuart et al
ORDER: Plaintiff's 2 application to proceed IFP is GRANTED, his 4 Motion to Consolidate is DENIED, and his Complaint is DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction. So Ordered by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis on 4/1/2013. (c/m to pro se; fwd'd for jgm) (Lee, Tiffeny)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MICHAEL J. STUART,
13-CV-362 (NGG) (LB)
-againstPAMELA L. STUART, Estate of ELIZABETH M.
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.
On January 16, 2013, prose Plaintiff Michael J. Stuart brought this action against his
niece, Pamela L. Stuart, and the estate of his sister-in-law, Elizabeth M. Stuart, alleging unjust
enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty relating to the administration of the estate of Lucille
Benjamin Stuart, Plaintiff's mother. (See Compl. (Dkt. 1).) Plaintiff also moved to proceed in
forma pauperis ("IFP"). (Mot. for IFP (Dkt. 2).) On February 1, 2013, he moved to consolidate
this case with an action pending in the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
(Mot. to Consolidate (Dkt. 4).) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to proceed IFP
is GRANTED, his motion to consolidate is DENIED, and his Complaint is DISMISSED for lack
In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that his brother Clarence L. Stuart and Clarence's
family (including Defendants) committed several acts of malfeasance relating to the distribution
of Plaintiff's mother's estate. (See Compl.) On October 11, 2012, the court dismissed for lack
of jurisdiction a substantially identical Complaint filed by Plaintiff. See Oct. 11, 2012, Order,
Stuart v. Stuart, et al., No. l 2-CV-1595 (NGG) (LB), Dkt. 16. The court concluded that it lacked
jurisdiction because "the probate exception [to federal court subject matter jurisdiction] reserves
to state probate courts the probate or annulment of a will and the administration of a decedent's
estate." Id. (citing Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S. 293, 311 (2006).
Indeed, the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over any determination of the rights of
distribution of an estate. See, e.g., Lefkowitz v. Bank ofNew York, 528 F.3d 102, 107 (2d Cir.
2007) (federal court properly dismissed claims under the probate exception where plaintiff
sought "to mask in claims for federal relief her complaints about the administration of her
parent's estates, which have been proceeding in probate courts"). Accordingly, the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs Complaint, just as it did the last time Plaintiff filed the
When a plaintiff proceeds IFP, a district court must dismiss all claims that clearly fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Moreover,
federal courts have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party, Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526
U.S. 574, 583 (1999), and "[w]herejurisdiction is lacking, ... dismissal is mandatory." Id.;
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). Therefore, because the court does not have subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiffs Complaint, it must be dismissed.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs application to proceed IFP is GRANTED, his motion to
consolidate is DENIED, and his Complaint is DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.
The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in
good faith and, therefore, Plaintiff is denied IFP status for any appeal from this Order. Coppedge
v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962). The Clerk of the Court is directed to close the
case and to mail a copy of this Order to Plaintiff.
s/Nicholas G. Garaufis
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
April _j_, 2013
United States District Judge
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