United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DISMISSING ACTION
L. ROBART United States District Judge
the court are (1) pro se Plaintiff Matthew James
Lindsey, Esq.'s complaint against various defendants
(Compl. (Dkt. # 4)), and (2) Magistrate Judge Brian A.
Tsuchida's order granting Mr. Lindsey in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) status and recommending
that the court review Mr. Lindsey's complaint pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) (IFP Order (Dkt. #3) at 1).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), district courts have
authority to review IFP complaints and must dismiss them if
“at any time” it is determined that a complaint
is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 n.7
(9th Cir. 2000) (clarifying that “section 1915(e)
applies to all [IFP] complaints, ” not just those filed
by prisoners). As discussed below, Mr. Lindsey's
complaint falls within the category of pleadings that the
court must dismiss.
Lindsey brings suit against several individuals, including:
Defendants David Shore, Carmencita Coranado, Stella Coranado,
and Jacob Shore (collectively, “Defendants”).
(Compl. at 2.) Mr. Lindsey alleges that the court has subject
matter jurisdiction over his claims based on diversity of
citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Id. at 3.)
He alleges that the amount in controversy is $615, 000.00.
(Id. at 4.) He also alleges that he is a citizen of
Washington State and that Ms. Carmencita Coranado is a
citizen of California. (Id. at 3.) He further
alleges California addresses for Mr. David Shore, Ms.
Carmencita Coranado, and Ms. Stella Coranado. (Id.
at 2.) Mr. Lindsey fails to allege an address, residence, or
state citizenship for Mr. Jacob Shore.
Lindsey's factual allegations are sparse. His claims
apparently involve the settlement of an estate. (See
Id. at 5.) He alleges that the events giving rise to his
claim occurred in 1999 in Martinez, California. (Id.
at 4.) He further alleges that “[t]he administrators
and attorney's [sic] failed to give notice and obtain
consent for the compensations and disbursements to the
‘Existing Beneficiaries' of the ‘Estate of
Marvel Shore.'” (Id.) He does not identify
who the administrators, attorneys, or existing beneficiaries
are. (See generally id.) He further alleges that
“[t]he beneficiaries are requesting that the venue be
changed to the state of residency of the remaining
beneficiaries.” (Id.) He does not allege why
the beneficiaries' request to change venue gives rise to
a legal claim. (See generally id.) Finally, he
alleges that “[i]t has been almost 20 years in default,
and unsettled.” (Id.) The court presumes that
this allegation refers to the Estate of Marvel Shore
(“the Estate”), but Mr. Lindsey never alleges
what his connection, if any, is to the Estate, why the Estate
is “in default, ” why the Estate remains
“unsettled, ” or why any of these circumstances
give rise to a claim entitling him to relief. (See
generally id.) Mr. Lindsey alleges no other facts
concerning his possible claim or claims. (See generally
A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
party invoking jurisdiction must allege facts that establish
the court's subject matter jurisdiction. Lujan v.
Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992);
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1) (“A pleading
that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and
plain statement of the grounds for the court's
jurisdiction.”). Further, the court has an independent
obligation to assess whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction over a case. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004) (noting that
district courts are “obligated to consider sua
sponte whether [they] have subject matter
jurisdiction”). “If the court determines at any
time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court
must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
Lindsey asserts that the court has subject matter
jurisdiction over his claims based on 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Compl. at 3.) A federal court's diversity jurisdiction
extends to “all civil actions where the matter in
controversy exceeds . . . $75, 000 . . . and is between . . .
citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). Federal diversity jurisdiction requires complete
diversity of citizenship between the parties, where each of
the plaintiffs is a citizen of a different state than each of
the defendants. See Morris v. Princess Cruises,
Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001). Because Mr.
Lindsey has failed to allege the state citizenship or
residency of Mr. Jacob Shore, the court cannot determine if
the state of citizenship for each of the defendants is
different from Mr. Lindsey's state of citizenship.
Accordingly, the court cannot establish its jurisdiction and
must dismiss Mr. Lindsey's complaint.
Dismissal under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)
1915(e)(2)(B) of Title 28 authorizes a district court to
dismiss an IFP complaint “at any time” if the
court determines: (1) the action is frivolous or malicious;
(2) the action fails to state a claim; or (3) the action
seeks relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Section 1915(e)(2) parallels
the language of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
Lopez, 203 F.3d at 1126-27. The complaint therefore
must allege facts that plausibly establish the
defendant's liability. See Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007). An IFP complaint
must contain factual allegations “enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.”
Id. at 555. An IFP complaint must also comply with
the pleading requirements of Rule 8, which requires “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 8(1)(2). Although Rule 8's pleading standard does
not require “detailed factual allegations, ” it
demands more than “an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
liberally construed, Mr. Lindsey's factual allegations
are wholly inadequate to plausibly establish the
defendants' liability and or raise Mr. Lindsey's
“right to relief above the speculative level.”
See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Although his complaint
appears to involve the settlement of an estate (see
generally Compl.), there is no way for either the court
or Defendants to discern the nature of Mr. Lindsey's
claims based on his sparse allegations. Any such attempt
would be mere speculation. Mr. Lindsey's complaint must
“contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to
give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend
itself effectively.” See Starr v. Baca, 652
F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Mr. Lindsey's complaint
fails to accomplish this requirement. Although his complaint
does not need detailed factual allegations, in order to
overcome the foregoing deficiencies, he must allege
sufficient factual matter to place Defendants on notice of
what his claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56. Because Mr. Lindsey
fails do so, the court concludes that Mr. Lindsey's
complaint fails to state a claim against Defendants, and the
court dismisses his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
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