United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
JAMES L. PHILLIPS, Plaintiff,
CHUCK FULLENKAMP, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss [ECF No. 13] the Plaintiff's Complaint, filed on
April 26, 2017. On February 1, 2017, the pro se Plaintiff,
James L. Phillips,  filed a Complaint [ECF No. 1] against the
Defendants, Chuck Fullenkamp, Don Knisley, and Wesley A.
Schemenaur. The Defendants have since moved to dismiss the
Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and 12(b)(7), arguing that this Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the case and the
Plaintiff's Complaint fails to allege that the Defendants
violated a federal right or law. On April 26, 2017, the
Plaintiff filed his Response to the Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss [ECF No. 16]. The Defendants did not file a reply.
With this matter now fully briefed, the Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss is granted for the reasons stated below.
Plaintiff's claims are difficult to decipher, but they
appear to stem from a dismissal judgment entered against him
in Jay Superior Court in which he was ordered to pay the
Defendants as a sanction for having filed a frivolous claim
[ECF No. 14-1]. The Plaintiff subsequently initiated this
suit, alleging that he had to pay the Defendants and
“want[s] [his] money back” (Compl., ECF No. 1).
Court must first consider the threshold jurisdictional issue
before reaching the merits of the case. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) requires the Court to dismiss an action
when it lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter.
United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d
942, 945 (7th Cir. 2003); Long v. Shorebank Dev.
Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999).
“Subject-matter jurisdiction is the first question in
every case, and if the court concludes that it lacks
jurisdiction it must proceed no further.” Ill. v.
City of Chi., 137 F.3d 474, 478 (7th Cir. 1998).
considering a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded
factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the Plaintiff. Alicea-Hernandez v. Catholic
Bishop of Chi., 320 F.3d 698, 701 (7th Cir. 2003);
see also Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck &
Co., 572 F.3d 440, 444 (7th Cir. 2009) (“The law
is clear that when considering a motion that launches a
factual attack against jurisdiction, the district court may
properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the
complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on
the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter
jurisdiction exists.) (quotation marks and brackets omitted).
The Plaintiff has the obligation to establish jurisdiction by
competent proof. Sapperstein v. Hager, 188 F.3d 852,
855-56 (7th Cir. 1999); Kirzan v. Apfel, 35
F.Supp.2d 672, 675 (N.D. Ind. 1999). The presumption of
correctness accorded to a complaint's allegations falls
away on the jurisdictional issue once a defendant proffers
evidence that calls a court's jurisdiction into question.
Sapperstein, 188 F.3d at 856.
respect to jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the
proponent of jurisdiction must prove contested factual
assertions-for example, where each party resides plus any
plans for change of residence for the purposes of domicile,
in order to establish diversity of citizenship, and the
amount in controversy-by a preponderance of the evidence.
Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v. Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536,
540-41, 543 (7th Cir. 2006). Once the facts have been
established, the case can be dismissed only “if it is
legally certain that the recovery (from plaintiff's
perspective) or cost of complying with the judgment (from
defendant's) will be less than the jurisdictional
floor.” Id. at 543.
Defendants contest diversity of citizenship, arguing that the
Plaintiff has failed to indicate in his Complaint that
diversity of citizenship between himself and the Defendants,
all Indiana residents, exists. Therefore, the Defendants
argue that the Court has no subject matter jurisdiction over
this matter. In his reply, Plaintiff does not respond to the
jurisdictional issue raised, but rather argues that he does
not want the case dismissed because he “wasn't
allowed to present . . . evidence” in the state court
and instead, had to pay a fine as a result of being
an action does not arise under the Constitution or laws of
the United States, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, a
district court still has original jurisdiction if the parties
to a case are of diverse state citizenship and the amount in
controversy is in excess of $75, 000, exclusive of interest
and costs. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1); LM
Ins. Corp. v. Spaulding Enters. Inc., 533 F.3d 542, 547
(7th Cir. 2008). “For a case to be within the diversity
jurisdiction of the federal courts, diversity of citizenship
must be ‘complete, ' meaning that no plaintiff may
be a citizen of the same state as any defendant.”
Fid. & Deposit Co. of Md. v. City of Sheboygan
Falls, 713 F.2d 1261, 1264 (7th Cir. 1983) (citation
Court finds that the Defendants have proffered evidence
calling the Court's jurisdiction into question by raising
to this Court that the Plaintiff and all of the Defendants
are Indiana residents and thus, there is no diversity of
citizenship in this case. The Court further finds that the
Plaintiff has not met his obligation to establish
jurisdiction by competent proof. Accordingly, because
complete diversity is lacking under 28 U.S.C. § 1332,
the Court dismisses this case.
on the foregoing, the Court GRANTS the Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss [ECF No. 13] the ...