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Malevannaya v. T-Mobile

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 18, 2018

T-MOBILE, Defendant.




         Before the court are pro se Plaintiffs Yekaterina Malevannaya and Liliya Volodkov's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) motion to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), complaint, and “emergency” motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against Defendant T-Mobile. (IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 1); Compl. (Dkt. # 1-1); TRO Mot. (Dkt. # 1-2).) The court has considered the motions and complaint, [1] the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [2] the court DENIES Plaintiffs' motions for the reasons set forth below and ORDERS Plaintiffs to show cause why this matter should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


         On June 15, 2018, Plaintiffs filed this case against T-Mobile and simultaneously moved for a TRO. (See Compl.; TRO Mot.) Plaintiffs' complaint contains no factual allegations, aside from listing Ms. Malevannaya's domicile and the principal place of business for T-Mobile. (See generally Compl.; see Id. at 4.) Both Ms. Malevannaya's domicile and T-Mobile's principal place of business are in Washington. (Id. at 4.)

         Along with their complaint, Plaintiffs filed two motions: (1) a motion to proceed IFP, and (2) a motion for a TRO. (See IFP Mot.; TRO Mot.) The IFP motion appears to contain only Ms. Malevannaya's information and is signed only by her. (See IFP Mot.) Ms. Volodkov neither signed the IFP motion nor paid the required filing fee. (See Dkt.)

         In their motion for a TRO, Plaintiffs state that Ms. Malevannaya is the “account holder of [an] Integrity Business account of T-Mobile, ” and that they have experienced “unfair treatment of [the] executive response team . . ., harrasing [sic] behavior, unproffesional [sic] vulgar language, fraudulant [sic] transactions, and unreasonable termination of [their] account without explanation.” (TRO Mot. at 1-2.) They further state that a T-Mobile representative told them they “have untill [sic] Monday to transfer [their] lines, ” and that they are not allowed in any T-Mobile retail stores or to obtain service from T-Mobile or “its affiliates” in the future. (Id. at 2.) Based on the foregoing events, Plaintiffs seek a TRO to “stop termination of service, which will occur on June 18, 2018.” (Id. at 1.) The court now addresses Plaintiffs' motions.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. IFP Motion

         Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 3(c), each plaintiff must sufficiently answer all of the questions on the IFP affidavit approved for use in this District. See Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 3(c). That information is necessary for the court to determine whether plaintiffs financially qualify to bring their action without paying the applicable filing fee. See Id. Here, only Ms. Malevannaya provided her financial information and signed the IFP application. (See IFP Mot.) Because Plaintiffs provided no information for Ms. Volodkov, the court denies Plaintiffs' IFP motion without prejudice. To correct the deficiency, Ms. Volodkov must file a signed IFP application containing her financial information no later than Monday, July 2, 2018. Ms. Malevannaya may, but is not required to, file an updated application by the same deadline.

         B. TRO Motion

         The standards governing the issuance of TROs are “substantially identical” to those governing the issuance of preliminary injunctions. Stuhlbarg Int'l Sales Co., Inc. v. John D. Brushy & Co., Inc., 240 F.3d 832, 839 n.7 (9th Cir. 2011). Accordingly, Plaintiffs must establish that (1) they are likely to succeed on the merits, (2) they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) the balance of equities tips in their favor, and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). In addition, a TRO is appropriate if Plaintiffs demonstrate “serious questions going to the merits” and that “the balance of hardships tips sharply” in their favor, provided that Plaintiffs also demonstrate irreparable harm and that the injunction is in the public interest. Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1134-35 (9th Cir. 2011). District courts in the Ninth Circuit treat a lack of subject matter jurisdiction as a failure to show a likelihood of success on the merits. See, e.g., Diaz v. Gaura, No. 16-00036 JMS-BMK, 2016 WL 447446, at *4 (D. Haw. Feb. 3, 2016) (“[B]ecause the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action, it necessarily is powerless to grant the Second Motion for TRO-at minimum, there is no likelihood of success.”); Rojas v. Green Tree, No. CV 13-06206 GAF (Ex), 2013 WL 12114481, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2013) (denying the motion for a TRO and ordering the plaintiff to show cause regarding subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff had “provided no evidentiary or factual support regarding the likelihood of success”).

         Federal district courts are “courts of limited jurisdiction” that “possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). The court must sua sponte raise the issue of subject matter jurisdiction. See Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002). Although the court liberally construes Plaintiffs' pro se complaint, see Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987), Plaintiffs nonetheless “must allege facts that establish the court's subject matter jurisdiction, ” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61 (1992). In general, federal jurisdiction exists when either (1) a claim arises under the Constitution or laws of the United States (federal question jurisdiction), or (2) a suit arises between citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 (diversity jurisdiction). See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. If a federal court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction at any time during a dispute, the court must dismiss the action. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

         The court assumes Plaintiffs intend to allege diversity jurisdiction because that is the only section of their complaint that they partially completed.[3] (See Compl. at 4; see generally id.) Section 1332 provides that the district courts “shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000 . . . and is between citizens of different states.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity of citizenship between the parties, which means that each of the plaintiffs must be 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) (‚ÄúSection 1332 requires complete diversity of citizenship; each of the plaintiffs must be a citizen of a different state than each of the ...

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