United States District Court, D. Vermont
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DOCS. 6, 8)
M. Conroy, United States Magistrate Judge
Jeffrey Hall, proceeding pro se, commenced this
civil action by filing an Application for Leave to Proceed
in forma pauperis, together with a proposed
complaint on July 27, 2017. (Doc. 1.) By Order dated August
16, 2017, in forma pauperis status was granted to
Plaintiff. (Doc. 4.) In his Complaint, Hall sought to bring
common law claims of assault and robbery against Defendants
Andrew Cassidy and the “Our House Restaurant
Owner's.” (Doc. 5.) A Report and Recommendation was
submitted to the presiding district judge recommending that
the Complaint be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, as complete
diversity of citizenship was lacking. (Doc. 4.) On September
7, 2017, United States District Judge William K. Sessions III
issued an Order adopting the conclusions of the Report and
Recommendation in full. The Complaint was dismissed without
prejudice and Hall was granted 30 days to file an Amended
Complaint. (Doc. 7.)
apparent response to the Report and Recommendation, Hall
filed a document on August 23, 2017, which he styles as
“Complaint.” (Doc. 6.) Therein, Hall renews his
claim of assault and robbery, and adds a claim of false
imprisonment against Defendants. (Id.)
Although the revised Complaint is not the picture of clarity,
the claim against the restaurant appear to be brought under a
theory of respondeat superior. On October 3, 2017
Hall filed another document entitled “Complaint for a
civil case.” (Doc. 8.) That second document is devoid
of any substantive allegation.
Clerk of the Court has docketed each document as an Amended
Complaint. These two documents are now construed for purposes
of this discussion as a unified Amended Complaint consistent
with the September 27, 2017 Order. The Amended Complaint
suffers from the same jurisdictional deficiencies originally
identified in the Report and Recommendation. Accordingly,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), I recommend that the
unified Amended Complaint be DISMISSED with prejudice.
Hall's Amended Complaint, Hall again alleges that
Defendant Andrew Cassidy, an employee of Our House
Restaurant,  attacked him and stole his property. (Doc.
6 at 3.) Hall claims that, after the attack happened, Cassidy
lied to the Winooski Police, which caused Hall to be falsely
imprisoned. (Id.) Hall further asserts that during
Cassidy's attack, he was experiencing a mental health
episode. (Id.) Hall seeks $39, 000 in damages from
Cassidy for the assault, robbery, false imprisonment, and for
“humiliat[ing and] embarrassing” him, and $75,
000 in damages from Our House Restaurant for employing Andrew
Cassidy. (Id. at 4.) On the cover page of the first
document, Hall requests that this Court view the document as
an Amended Complaint. (Id. at 1.)
second document making up the Amended Complaint, titled
“Complaint for a civil case” does not contain any
factual allegations. (Doc. 8.) Instead, under the subtitle
“Assaulted and Robbed, ” it merely lists the
defendants and their alleged addresses. (Doc. 8 at 1-2.)
Cassidy is described as living in Vermont and Our House
Restaurant is located in Vermont and New York, according to
Hall. (Doc. 8 at 1-2.)
couched in slightly different terms, the allegations in both
documents of Hall's Amended Complaint substantially
repeat his original Complaint. (See generally Docs.
5, 6.) As discussed below, the Amended Complaint should be
dismissed for substantially the same reasons outlined in the
prior Report and Recommendation. (See generally Doc.
4.) That is, this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction
over Hall's Amended Complaint. (See Id. at 3.)
pro se filings are “to be liberally construed
. . . and . . . must be held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted), a district court may dismiss an in
forma pauperis matter upon determining that the
complaint: “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii)
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from
such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
federal courts “have an independent obligation to
consider the presence or absence of subject[-]matter
jurisdiction sua sponte.” Joseph v.
Leavitt, 465 F.3d 87, 89 (2d Cir. 2006); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).
Federal courts only have subject-matter jurisdiction over two
types of cases: those raising a federal question or those
invoking diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1332. “[T]he party asserting federal
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing
jurisdiction” under one of these provisions.
Blockbuster, Inc. v. Galeno, 472 F.3d 53, 57 (2d
Cir. 2006). “A plaintiff properly invokes § 1331
[federal question] jurisdiction when [he] pleads a colorable
claim ‘arising under' the Constitution or laws of
the United States.” Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp.,
546 U.S. 500, 513 (2006). To raise a claim under diversity
jurisdiction, § 1332 requires (in relevant part) that
the amount in controversy in the case exceeds $75, 000 and
that the matter is “between . . . citizens of different
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Diversity means
“complete diversity of citizenship”; in other
words, the citizenship of each plaintiff must be different
from the citizenship of each defendant. Caterpillar Inc.
v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996).
Hall's Amended Complaint, he alleges that he was falsely
imprisoned as a result of Cassidy's actions and that
Cassidy caused him emotional humiliation. (Doc. 6 at 3.) Like
the assault and robbery claim in Hall's original
Complaint, (see Doc. 5 at 2-3), both the false
imprisonment claim and the intentional infliction of
emotional distress claim are state law claims. Similarly,
Hall's claim against Our House appears to rely on another
state law action, the doctrine of respondeat
superior. (Doc. 6 at 4.) Because these claims do not
involve a federal question, this Court does not have
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Nor does this Court
have diversity jurisdiction under § 1332. According to
the Amended Complaint, Hall and Cassidy both reside in
Vermont. (Doc. 6 at 2; Doc. 8 at 1.) As described above,
however, complete diversity is required between Hall and both
defendants and complete diversity is not alleged. Further,
although Hall now claims in the Amended Complaint that Our
House Restaurant is located in New York, he does not indicate
that Our House's principal place of business and state of
incorporation are located in New York or another state other
than Vermont. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1) (“[A]
corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of every State .
. . by which it has been incorporated and of the State . . .
where it has its principal place of business.”). In
fact, he continues to maintain that Our House is also located
in Vermont. (Doc. 6 at 2; Doc. 8 at 2.); see Fine v.
Delalande, Inc., 545 F.Supp. 275, 275 (S.D.N.Y. 1982)
(concluding that diversity did not exist where
corporation's principal place of business was in the same
state where 11 plaintiffs were citizens). Accordingly, the
Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Hall's
Amended Complaint (Docs. 6, 8) and it should be DISMISSED.
that Hall has already been granted leave to amend and that
his Amended Complaint failed to correct the jurisdictional
defects identified in this Court's prior Order, the
dismissal should be with prejudice. See John Birch Soc.
v. Nat'l Broad. Co., 377 F.2d 194, 199 (2d Cir.
1967) (“The proposed amended pleading failed to correct
the deficiencies in the jurisdictional allegations relating
to the plaintiffs and the defendant . . . . The complaint
must therefore be dismissed for lack of subject[-]matter
foregoing reasons, I recommend that Hall's Amended
Complaint (Docs. 6, 8) be DISMISSED for lack of