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O'Conner v. Sears Holding Corp.

August 14, 2006

CHRISTINE O'CONNER PLAINTIFF,
v.
SEARS HOLDING CORPORATION, HOMEDELIVERYAMERICA.COM, TRANSCOM LEASING, AND YURIS O. HENRIQUEZ, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Trager, J

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Christine O'Conner ("plaintiff") brings this case against Sears Holding Corp. ("Sears"), HomeDeliveryAmerica.com, Transcom Leasing ("Transcom"), and Yuris O. Henriquez. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Henriquez crashed into her parked car, causing significant damage to the car. Plaintiff further alleges that as a result of the damage done to the car, her Constitutional rights to privacy and travel have been violated. Plaintiff asserts that federal jurisdiction is conferred under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. Defendants, with the exception of HomeDeliveryAmerica.com, move to dismiss plaintiff's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Rules (12)(b)(1) and (12)(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Background

(1).

On the morning of Septemeber 3, 2005, plaintiff alleges that a delivery truck driven by Yuris Henriquez crashed into plaintiff's legally parked 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis. Compl. ¶ 3. The delivery truck did not stop after the alleged accident, but continued to its destination. Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff's husband followed the delivery truck on foot and recorded its license plate and commercial registration. Id. ¶ 5. The truck was delivering merchandise purchased from a Sears store. Id. ¶ 6. Sears contracted with HomeDeliveryAmerica.com for the delivery service. Id. HomeDeliveryAmerica.com subcontracted the delivery to Yuris Henriquez. Id. Mr. Henriquez leased the truck from Transcom Leasing Corporation. Id. The accident was subsequently reported to the police and an accident report was filed. Id. ¶ 7. Plaintiff made numerous attempts to contact the different parties involved in the accident, to no avail. Id. ¶¶ 8-11. Unable to receive any payment, plaintiff put the damaged car in storage before initiating this litigation. The cost of the storage thus far is $2,730. Id. ¶ 14. The car's value, as represented by the National Automobile Dealers Association, is $1,750. Id. ¶ 12.

As a result of the accident, plaintiff feels that her right to travel, and to privacy have been violated. Id. ¶ 15. She has been forced to rely on public transportation and the good will of others to travel to work and other places. Id. Plaintiff had to make cumbersome arrangements to travel to her annual Thanksgiving dinner in Maryland. Id. Plaintiff's husband was previously taken to his doctor appointments in the car and now has to make different arrangements. Id. Plaintiff alleges that all of these inconveniences have grossly affected her quality of life and have interfered with her ability to conduct her family affairs as she desires. Plaintiff requests as compensatory damages the storage fees and the cost of repairing her car and $175,000 in punitive damages.

Discussion

(1) Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss is granted when the plaintiff's complaint lacks certain essential elements. In the current case, two deficiencies are alleged: (1) the court does not have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the claim, (Fed. R. Civ. P. (12)(b)(1)); and (2) the claims made by plaintiff have no remedy under existing law, (Fed. R. Civ. P. (12)(b)(6)).

"It is axiomatic that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may not decide cases over which they lack subject matter jurisdiction." Seabury v. New York, No. 06-1477, 2006 WL 1367396, at *5 (E.D.N.Y 2006) (quoting Lyndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. V. Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700-01 (2d Cir. 2000)). Therefore, although defendant HomeDeliveryAmerica.com has not filed a motion to dismiss with this court, the jurisdictional question must be raised by the court sua sponte. Id.

When a claim is filed pro se the Court is directed to apply a more flexible standard in evaluating the sufficiency of the claim. Lerman v. Bd. of Elections, 232 F.3d 135, 140 (2d Cir. 2000). The complaint must be liberally construed to allow for any inference of a valid complaint. Id. "In order to justify the dismissal of the plaintiff's pro se complaint, it must be beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id. (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972)) (internal quotations omitted).

Plaintiff argues that federal jurisdiction is appropriate under federal question jurisdiction because her Constitutional rights have been violated and under diversity jurisdiction. Each of these contentions are considered in turn.

(2) Federal Question Jurisdiction

Federal jurisdiction is granted for all "civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. ยง 1331. Plaintiff asserts that her Constitutional rights to travel and to privacy were violated when Mr. Henriquez allegedly crashed into her ...


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