United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Complaint in this matter was filed on March 13, 2017. Dkt.
#5. Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and all but one
of the named Defendants have appeared. Dkts. #6, #7 and #10.
March 30, 2017, this Court directed Plaintiff to show cause
why this matter should not be dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. Dkt. #8. The Court noted that
Plaintiff's claims appear to arise out of the appointment
of a non-familial personal representative in a Pierce County
probate action. See Dkt. #5. Plaintiff alleges that
a personal representative was appointed for his
grandfather's Estate, without notice to his mother, his
brother, or himself, all of whom he alleges are the rightful
heirs of the estate. Id. He further alleges that the
personal representative took advantage of the fact that his
mother suffers from brain damage, and coerced her into
signing paperwork that ultimately resulted in negative
financial consequences. Id. He alleges numerous
violations of the Revised Code of Washington, as well as of
Washington State court rules and the Washington State Rules
of Professional Conduct. He appears to seek an Order allowing
him to intervene in the state court probate proceedings where
he wants to vacate several court orders in that matter and to
petition for a new personal representative. Id.
subsequently responded to the Court's Show Cause Order.
Dkt. #9. With respect to jurisdiction, Plaintiff made several
arguments. First, he stated:
The plaintiff notes the court may have to sever one, or more
of the defendants for jurisdictional purposes.
The plaintiff requests that the defendant, Arlen Bobb and
Attorneys for the Personal Representative, Turnbull and Born,
P.L.L.C. be severed from this lawsuit to satisfy
“Complete Diversity” requirements.
Dkt. #9 at 2-3.
respect to probate matters, Plaintiff pointed to the U.S.
Supreme Court case of Marshall v. Marshall, 547 U.S.
293, 126 S.Ct. 1735 (2006), wherein the Court defined the
scope of the probate exception to jurisdiction. Dkt. #9 at 6.
He appeared to assert that his claims are also outside of the
Court's probate exception, and therefore jurisdiction in
this Court is appropriate. Id.
reviewing the response filed by Plaintiff, the Court directed
Plaintiff to clarify whether he seeks to voluntarily dismiss
Arlene Bobb and Attorneys for the Personal Representative,
Turnbull and Born, P.L.L.C., as Defendants to this action.
Dkt. #11. The Court further directed Defendants to show cause
why this matter should not proceed in this Court.
5, 2017, Defendant KeyBank National Association
(“KeyBank”) responded that there is no basis for
federal jurisdiction in this matter. Dkt. #12. KeyBank noted
that diversity jurisdiction is not supported on the face of
the Complaint, there are no claims asserted against KeyBank
in any event, and there appears no claim that is not barred
by the probate exception to jurisdiction. Id.
17, 2017, Plaintiff responded to the Court's Order for
Clarification. Dkt. #13. Defendant clarified that he is not
going to voluntarily dismiss Defendants Arlene Bobb and
attorneys Turnbull and Born PLLC. Id. Plaintiff then
appears to argue that this Court has both supplemental
jurisdiction over state law claims and that his claims
otherwise fall outside of the probate exception. Id.
at 8-9. He also asserts that the property at issue in this
matter is valued at an amount that exceeds $75, 000, and
therefore he meets the requisite amount in controversy.
19, 2017, Defendants Bobb and Turnbull and Born responded to
the Court's Order. Dkt. #14. They essentially join in the
response of KeyBank, and assert that this matter must be
dismissed as to them. Id. The same day, Defendant
Bank of America, N.A. also responded to the Court's
Order. Dkt. #15. They concur with the arguments made by the
other Defendants and also note that the Complaint is devoid
of any claims or allegations against it. Id.
Court has previously noted, federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction, and therefore Plaintiff bears the
burden of establishing that his case is properly filed in
federal court. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.,
511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391
(1994); In re Ford Motor Co./Citibank (South Dakota),
N.A., 264 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2001). This burden, at
the pleading stage, must be met by pleading sufficient
allegations to show a proper basis for the federal court to
assert subject matter jurisdiction over the action.
McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S.
178, 189, 56 S.Ct. 780, 785, 80 L.Ed. 1135 (1936). Further,
the Court will dismiss a Complaint at any time if the action
fails to state a claim, raises frivolous or malicious claims,
or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
case, Plaintiff cannot establish diversity jurisdiction,
particularly because he has refused to dismiss Defendants
that are not diverse. Indeed, Plaintiff himself previously
recognized that Defendants Bobb and Turnbull and Born reside
in Washington, as does he, and therefore complete diversity
does not exist. See Dkt. #9 at 2-3. Further, for the
reasons stated by Defendants, the Court agrees that Plaintiff
does not appear to have raised any ancillary probate claims
that would be outside of the probate exception to federal
jurisdiction. Dkts. #12 at 4-5, #14 at 1-2, and #15 at 2.
While Plaintiff asserts that his claims are ancillary to the
probate of his grandfather's estate, and therefore this
Court has jurisdiction, he does not adequately explain why
the claims are ancillary. As best as this Court can tell, his
claims appear to arise out of the appointment of a
non-familial personal representative in a Pierce County
probate action and challenge certain actions taken by that
representative, as described above. See Dkt. #5. He
appears to seek an Order allowing him to intervene in the