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Gause v. Chase Home Finance LLC

March 9, 2010

DESIVENO GAUSE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHASE HOME FINANCE LLC, COMMERCIAL MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, ESTATE OF DELLA L. GAUSE, LUNT AGENCY, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently pending before the Court is pro se and in forma pauperis Plaintiff Desi Gause's Amended Complaint. The Court dismissed Ms. Gause's original Complaint with leave to re-plead. It now DISMISSES her Amended Complaint WITH PREJUDICE.

BACKGROUND

On November 9, 2009, Ms. Gause filed a Complaint against Defendants, asserting claims for wrongful foreclosure, breach of contract, and slander/libel. On December 9, 2009, the Court dismissed that Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Gause v. Chase Home Finance LLC, 09-CV-4886, 2009 WL 4984346, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115490 (E.D.N.Y. 2009). The Court found that Ms. Gause did not plead federal question jurisdiction because she pled only state law claims. Id. And the Court further found that Ms. Gause expressly did not plead diversity jurisdiction because she alleged that both herself and two Defendants, Commercial Mutual Insurance Company ("CMIC") and Lunt Agency, Inc. ("Lunt") were New York citizens.

On January 14, 2010, Ms. Gause filed an Amended Complaint. This Amended Complaint alleges the same basic facts as her original Complaint. But, to establish federal question jurisdiction, it also purports to assert a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. And, artfully, it seeks to establish diversity jurisdiction by no longer pleading that Ms. Gause, CMIC and Lunt are New York citizens. Instead, the Amended Complaint identifies Ms. Gause only as a United States citizen, and styles CMIC and Lunt as "citizen[s] of unknown jurisdiction."

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Courts are obliged to construe the pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally. Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant, 537 F.3d 185, 191 (2d Cir. 2008); McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004). If a liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," courts must grant leave to amend the complaint. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).

II. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Notwithstanding the liberal pleading standard afforded pro se litigants, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may not preside over cases if they lack subject matter jurisdiction. Lyndonville Sav. Bank & Trust Co. v. Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700-01 (2d Cir. 2000). Unlike lack of personal jurisdiction, lack of subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived and may be raised at any time by a party or by the Court sua sponte. Id. If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action must be dismissed." Id. at 700-01; Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

The basic statutory grants of subject-matter jurisdiction are contained in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 513, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed. 2d 1097 (2006). Section 1331 provides federal-question jurisdiction and Section 1332 provides jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. Id. Here, Ms. Gause fails to properly plead either a federal cause of action or diversity jurisdiction. Thus, Ms. Gause's Amended Complaint must be dismissed.

A. Federal Question Jurisdiction

"A plaintiff properly invokes § 1331 jurisdiction when he pleads a colorable claim 'arising under' the Constitution or laws of the United States." Arbaugh, 546 U.S. at 513.

Here, Ms. Gause purports to assert § 1983 claims against the Defendants, alleging that Defendants somehow violated her First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by not compensating her for a robbery and home invasion her family supposedly suffered. If well-pled, § 1983 claims would establish ...


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