Coureau v. 1233 Realty Associates
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: Coureau is granted thirty (30) days leave from the date of this Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint as detailed above. Failure to comply with this Memorandum and Order will result in dismissal without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Although Coureau paid the filing fee to initiate the action, the Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith, and therefore, in form a pauperis status is denied for purpose of an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962). The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order to plaintiff Victor Coureau, pro se, at the address listed for Coureau, and note the mailing on the docket. Ordered by Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf on 3/9/2017. (Taronji, Robert)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
l 6-CV-5796 (RRM) (LB)
-against1233 REALTY ASSOCIATES,
ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States District Judge.
Plaintiff Victor Coureau ("Coureau") brings this prose action against defendant 1233
Realty Associates ("1233 Realty") and invokes diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U .S.C. §
1332. Coureau has paid the requisite filing fee to initiate the action. For the reasons that follow,
Coureau does not adequately allege the existence of subj ect matter jurisdiction. Accordingly,
Coureau is granted thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order to file an
amended complaint establishing the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. If he fai ls to do so,
the action will be dismissed for lack of subj ect matter jurisdiction.
The fo llowing facts are drawn from Coureau's pleading and the exhibits attached thereto,
the allegations of which are assumed to be true for purposes of this Memorandum and Order. On
or about March 28, 1998, Coureau moved into a rent stabilized apartment. (Comp!. (Doc. No. 1)
at 3.) 1 Although Coureau' s complaint is far from a model of clarity, Coureau avers that 123 3
Realty is overcharging rent in violation of the rent stabilization guidelines. (Comp!. at 7-1 1.)
1233 Realty brought at least two actions against Coureau in the Civil Court of New York, Kings
All citations to pages of the Compl aint refer to the Electronic Case Filing System ("ECF") pagination.
County for nonpayment of rent. (Compl. at 22-23.) Coureau seeks monetary damages in the
amount of "450.000 three times the bill." (Compl. at 1.)2
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. " Bell At!. C01p. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible "when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Matson v. Bd. of Educ., 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir.
20 11) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Although all factual allegations
contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is "inapplicable to legal
conclusions." Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678.
The Court must be mindful that a pro se plaintiff's pleadings should be held "to less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 55 1 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976)); see Harris v.
Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that even after Twombly, the court "remain[s]
obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally").
Even if a plaintiff has paid the court' s fi ling fee, a district court may dismiss the case, sua
sponte, if it determines that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction or the action is frivolous.
Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 22 1 F.3d 362, 363-64 (2d Cir. 2000); see also
Hawkins-El III v. AIG Fed. Sav. Bank, 334 F. App' x. 394, 395 (2d Cir. 2009) (affirming district
court's sua sponte dismissal of fee paid frivolous complaint); Paige v. City ofNew York, No. 10CV-5469 (SLT), 20 11 WL370 1923, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 23, 2010).
Coureau also requested a default judgment on November 16, 2016. (Mot. for Default J. (Doc. No. 6).) For the
reasons discussed below, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action and declines to grant a default
Pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must provide a
short, plain statement of claim against each defendant named so that they have adequate notice of
the claims against them. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (Rule 8 " demands more than an unadorned, thedefendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation."); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. A pleading that only
"tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement" will not suffice. Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678 (internal citations and alterations omitted). A plaintiff must provide facts sufficient
to allow each defendant to have a fair understanding of what the plaintiff is complaining about
and to know whether there is a legal basis for recovery. See Twombly v. Bell, 425 F.3d 99, 106
(2d Cir. 2005) (defining "fair notice" as "'that which will enable the adverse party to answer and
prepare for trial, allow the application of res judicata, and identify the nature of the case so that it
may be assigned the proper form of trial'") (quoting Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir.
1995)). A court may dismiss a complaint that is "so confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise
unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised." Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d
40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988).
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
The district courts of the United States are "courts of limited jurisdiction" and may not
preside over cases absent subject matter jurisdiction. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs. ,
Inc. , 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "Congress has
granted district courts original jurisdiction over cases in which there is a federal question, see 28
U.S .C. § 1331, and certain cases between citizens of different states, so long as the requirements
of complete diversity and amount in controversy are met, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332." Perdue
Pharma L.P. v. Kentucky, 704 F.3d 208, 2 13 (2d Cir. 20 13). " [B]ecause [subject matter
jurisdiction] involves a court's power to hear a case, [it] can never be forfeited or waived."
United States v. Collon, 535 U.S . 625, 630 (2002). "[W]hen a federal court concludes that it
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety." Arbaugh
v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006).
a. Diversity of Citizenship
Coureau alleges that he is bringing the action pursuant to the Court's diversity
jurisdiction. 3 However, his complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate if diversity is
present and if so, whether the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied. Coureau resides in
Brooklyn, New York and he alleges that 1233 Realty resides in Brooklyn. See, e.g., St. Paul
Fire and Marine Ins. Co. v. ,. Universal Builders Supply, 409 F.3d 73, 80 (2d Cir. 2005) (diversity
is not complete if plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any defendant). On this basis,
diversity is lacking.
Moreover, a review of the documents that Coureau annexes to his complaint indicates
that 1233 Realty appears to be a limited liability company with a mailing address in New Jersey.
(Comp!. at 21.) A limited liability company takes the citizenship of its members. Bayerische
Landesbank, New York Branch v. Aladdin Capital Mgmt. LLC, 692 F.3d 42, 49 (2d Cir. 2012)
("Defendant A laddin is a limited liability company that takes the citizenship of each of its
Coureau 's complaint fa ils to present a substantial fede ral question. Section 133 1 g ives the Court "original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the Un ited States." 28 U.S.C. §
133 1; see also Bracey v. Bd of Educ. of City of Bridgeport, 368 F.3d I 08, 11 3 (2d Ci r. 2004). A case arises under
federal law where federal law creates the plaintiff's cause of action or where " the well-pleaded complaint
' necessari ly depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law."' Bracey, 368 F.3d at 11 3 (quoting
Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. I, 28 ( 1983)).
Here, Coureau's complaint arises out of a land lord-tenant dispute which is fundamentally a maner of state law. See
Ellis v. Sabeini Mitivach Associates, No. I 4-CV-4441 (NGG), 20 14 WL 5305994, at *2 (E.D.N. Y. Oct. 15 , 2014)
(finding federal courts lack subject maner jurisdiction over landlord-tenant claims); Cain v. Rambert, No. I3-CV5807 (MKB), 2014 WL 2440596, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. May 30, 2014); Kheyn v. City of New York, No. 13-CV-6858
(SLT), 20 10 WL 3034652, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 20 I0). Even when construed liberally, it does not appear that
Coureau' s claims are premised on a violation of any federal constitutional or statutory right.
members."). Thus, to invoke this Court's diversity jurisdiction, Coureau ' s complaint must allege
the citizenship of each member of the limited liability company defendant. Krause v. Forex
Exch. Mkt. , Inc. , 356 F. Supp.2d 332, 336 (S.D.N.Y. 2005). Coureau fails to allege the identity
and citizenship of each " member" of 1233 Realty. Thus, subject matter jurisdiction is lacking
based on the face of the complaint. See Hai Yang Liu v. 88 Harborview Realty, LLC, 5 F. Supp.
3d 443, 447 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) (finding plaintiffs failure to allege the citizenship of each member
of the defendant limited liability company may result in the dismissal of the complaint).
In addition, the complaint fails to establish the amount in controversy requirement. A
party invoking the jurisdiction of the federal court has the burden of establishing by a
"reasonable probability" that the claim is in excess of the statutory jurisdictional amount. Chase
Manhattan Bank, NA. v. Am. Nat 'l Bank and Trust Co. of Chicago, 93 F .3d 1064, 1070 (2d Cir.
1996) (quoting Tongkook Am. , Inc. v. Shipton Sportswear Co. , 14 F.3d 781 , 784 (2d Cir. 1994)).
The amount in controversy must be non-speculative in order to satisfy the statute. Baltazar v.
Earth Ctr. ofMaanu, Inc., No . 14-CV-3543 (ENV), 2014 WL 3887717, at *2-3 (E.D.N.Y. July
11 , 20 14). Here, Coureau requests damages in the amount of"450.000 three times the bill."
(Comp!. at 1.) It is unclear to the Court on what basis Coureau determined his damages, as his
complaint fails to allege any facts to plausibly support an amount of controversy of more than
$75,000.00. Therefore, Coureau has failed to allege facts demonstrating that he satisfies the
amount in controversy requirement.
Leave to Amend
For the reasons explained above, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
Coureau's complaint. However, given Coureau's prose status, he is given thirty (30) days from
the date of this Memorandum and Order, to file an amended complaint that demonstrates a good
faith basis for satisfying the diversity of citizenship and amount in controversy requirements of
28 U.S.C. § 1332. Coureau is advised that any amended complaint he files will completely
replace the original complaint. The amended complaint must be captioned, "Amended
Complaint," and shall bear the same docket number as this Memorandum and Order. Should
Coureau fai l to file an amended complaint within the time period set forth in this Order, the
Court wi ll dismiss this action without prejudice to refile in state court.
Accordingly, Coureau is granted thirty (30) days leave from the date of this
Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint as detailed above. Failure to comply with
this Memorandum and Order will result in dismissal without prejudice for lack of subject matter
Although Coureau paid the filing fee to initiate the action, the Court certifies pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith, and
therefore, in forma pauper is status is denied for purpose of an appeal. See Coppedge v. United
States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45 (1962).
The Clerk of Court is respectfully directed to mail a copy of this Memorandum and Order
to plaintiff Victor Coureau, pro se, at the address listed for Coureau, and note the mailing on the
nos [ynn 'R. .7v1.aus fioyf
ROSL YNN R. MAUSKOPF
United States District Judge
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
March 9, 2017
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