United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE
OneMain Financial of Indiana, Inc. (“OneMain”)
originally filed this lawsuit in Porter County Superior Court
in the State of Indiana against defendant Tiera Butler
(“Butler”) on November 9, 2017. (DE # 2.) OneMain
alleges that Butler owes it money under a Loan Agreement.
(Id. at 1-2.)
acting pro se, removed the action to this court in a
notice of removal filed February 7, 2018. (DE # 1.) On
February 12, 2018, Butler filed an amended notice of removal,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) and § 1446(b). (DE
# 6.) In addition to stating her basis for removal,
Butler's amended notice of removal also alleged
counterclaims against Onemain. (Id.) Additional
“counterclaims” are also alleged against David
Tipton, Fred Hecht, Julia Andrews, John Cox, Traci Shuttz,
Stephen Andrews, Christopher Neeson, and Andrews and Cox,
P.C. (collectively, the “Counterclaim
Defendants”). (Id.) Although claims against
third parties are not technically “counterclaims,
” these parties refer to themselves as the
“Counterclaim Defendants” (see DE # 14)
and the distinction does not matter for the purposes of this
March 12, 2018, the Counterclaim Defendants moved to remand
the case back to state court because this court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction. (DE # 14.) The next day, OneMain filed
its own motion to remand for lack of jurisdiction. (DE # 16.)
The motions are fully briefed and ripe for ruling.
removal statute allows for the removal of “any civil
action brought in a State court of which the district courts
of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28
U.S.C. § 1441. The party invoking federal jurisdiction
bears the burden of demonstrating its existence. Appert
v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 617
(7th Cir. 2012). Thus, when a party opposing federal
jurisdiction challenges the allegations of jurisdictional
facts, the party seeking the federal forum must prove those
facts by a preponderance of the evidence. Meridian Sec.
Ins. Co. v. Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536, 543 (7th Cir. 2006).
courts are to “interpret the removal statute narrowly,
” and any doubts regarding jurisdiction should be
resolved in favor of remand to state court. Doe v.
Allied-Signal, Inc., 985 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993).
“If at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
amended notice of removal, Butler argues this court has
jurisdiction over this matter based on both complete
diversity and the existence of a federal question. (DE # 6 at
1.) The court will address diversity jurisdiction first.
federal court may exercise diversity jurisdiction if the
parties are citizens of different states and the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The movants argue that all
parties in this case reside in the State of Indiana,
destroying diversity of citizenship. Specifically, OneMain
asserts that it is an Indiana corporation (see DE #
17-1) and the Counterclaim Defendants assert they all reside
or maintain a principal place of business in Indiana (DE # 14
¶ 12). Butler does not dispute the citizenship of those
her own citizenship, however, Butler has a great deal to say.
She writes, “Tiera Butler is a nonresident alien,
foreign Hebrew Israelite Diplomat, North American republic
national so called Black, African American federal employee,
Sui Juris, protected, suspect class Eternal Essence
Embodied/I AM- a living woman/natural person pursuant to the
First, Fourth[, ] Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the
United States Constitution and Federal Statutes . . .
.” (DE # 19 at 14.) Nevertheless, Butler admits she
lives in Valparaiso, Indiana. (Id. at 16.)
Therefore, Butler's argument that she is the subject of a
foreign state for diversity purposes fails. See Westby
Co-Op Credit Union v. Hertler, No. 12-cv-811-wmc, 2012
WL 6195992, at *2 (W.D. Wis. Dec. 12, 2012) (ruling
defendants residing in Wisconsin were not foreign citizens
for diversity purposes despite allegations that they were
foreign sovereign citizens); see also U.S. v.
Benabe, 654 F.3d 753, 767 (7th Cir. 2011) (“We
have repeatedly rejected . . . theories of individual
sovereignty. . . . Regardless of an individual's claimed
status of descent, be it as a ‘sovereign citizen, '
a ‘secured-party creditor, ' or a
‘flesh-and-blood human being, ' that person is not
beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. These theories should
be rejected summarily, however they are presented.”).
Since all parties in this case reside in Indiana, complete
diversity does not exist and cannot provide the basis for
this court's subject matter jurisdiction.