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Coureau v. 1233 Realty Associates

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 9, 2017

1233 REALTY ASSOCIATES, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Victor Coureau ("Coureau") brings this pro se action against defendant 1233 Realty Associates ("1233 Realty") and invokes diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Coureau has paid the requisite filing fee to initiate the action. For the reasons that follow. Coureau does not adequately allege the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, Coureau is granted thirty (30) days from the date of this Memorandum and Order to file an amended complaint establishing the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. If he fails to do so, the action will be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


         The following facts are drawn from Coureau's pleading and the exhibits attached thereto, the allegations of which are assumed to be true for purposes of this Memorandum and Order. On or about March 28, 1998, Coureau moved into a rent stabilized apartment. (Compl. (Doc. No. 1) at 3.)[1] Although Coureau's complaint is far from a model of clarity, Coureau avers that 1233 Realty is overcharging rent in violation of the rent stabilization guidelines. (Compl. at 7-11.) 1233 Realty brought at least two actions against Coureau in the Civil Court of New York, Kings County for nonpayment of rent. (Compl. at 22-23.) Coureau seeks monetary damages in the amount of "450.000 three times the bill." (Compl. at 1 .)[2]


         A complaint must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Matson v. Bd. of Educ, 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashetoft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Although all factual allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is "inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678.

         The Court must be mindful that a pro se plaintiffs pleadings should be held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976)); see Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that even after Twombly, the court "remain[s] obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally").

         Even if a plaintiff has paid the court's filing fee, a district court may dismiss the case, sua sponte, if it determines that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction or the action is frivolous. Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363-64 (2d Cir. 2000); see also Hawkins-El III v. AIG Fed. Sav. Bank, 334 F.App'x. 394, 395 (2d Cir. 2009) (affirming district court's sua sponte dismissal of fee paid frivolous complaint); Paige v. City of New York, No. 10-CV-5469 (SLT), 2011 WL 3701923, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 23, 2010).

         I. Rule 8

         Pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must provide a short, plain statement of claim against each defendant named so that they have adequate notice of the claims against them. Iqhal, 556 U.S. at 678 (Rule 8 "demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation."); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. A pleading that only "tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement" will not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal citations and alterations omitted). A plaintiff must provide facts sufficient to allow each defendant to have a fair understanding of what the plaintiff is complaining about and to know whether there is a legal basis for recovery. See Twombly v. Bell, 425 F.3d 99, 106 (2d Cir. 2005) (defining "fair notice" as '"that which will enable the adverse party to answer and prepare for trial, allow the application of res judicata, and identify the nature of the case so that it may be assigned the proper form of trial'") (quoting Simmons v. Abruzzo, 49 F.3d 83, 86 (2d Cir. 1995)). A court may dismiss a complaint that is "so confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised." Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988).


         I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         The district courts of the United States are "courts of limited jurisdiction" and may not preside over cases absent subject matter jurisdiction. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "Congress has granted district courts original jurisdiction over cases in which there is a federal question, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and certain cases between citizens of different states, so long as the requirements of complete diversity and amount in controversy are met, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, " Perdue Pharma LP. v. Kentucky, 704 F.3d 208, 213 (2d Cir. 2013). "[B]ecause [subject matter jurisdiction] involves a court's power to hear a case, [it] can never be forfeited or waived." United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002). "[W]hen a federal court concludes that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety." Arbaugh v. Y&HCorp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006).

         a. Diversity ...

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