United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
GLASSER, Senior United States District Judge
Shawn Lindstrom and Doreen Lindstrom ("Plaintiffs")
bring negligence and loss-of-consortium claims related to a
multi-vehicle automobile accident that occurred on Interstate
78 in February 2016. On January 31, 2018, the Court issued an
order directing Plaintiffs to show cause why this case should
not be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction,
noting that complete diversity is lacking and that
federal-question jurisdiction appeared not to exist. ECF No.
11. The order directed Plaintiffs to show cause within
twenty-one days-i.e., on or before February 21, 2018. On that
date, rather than respond to the order to show cause,
Plaintiffs instead filed a letter requesting that the action
be transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. ECF
No. 18. That request is denied, and this action is dismissed
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
February 13, 2016, Shawn Lindstrom was severely injured in a
multi-vehicle automobile accident on Interstate 78.
See ECF No. 1 ("Compl") ffi| 1, 32.
Plaintiffs allege that the accident, Shawn Lindstrom's
resulting injuries, and Doreen Lindstrom's resulting loss
of consortium with her husband were caused by the negligence
of the twelve named defendants in this case, the owners and
operators of the other vehicles involved in the accident.
See Id. ffl| 19-37. As alleged in the complaint,
Plaintiffs are both citizens of New York, and so too are two
of the defendants, Transervice Logistics Inc. and Shota
Manvelidze. Compl. ffl[ 2-3, 5, 10.
commenced this action on November 30, 2017. Compl. On January
31, 2018, the Court issued an order directing Plaintiffs to
show cause, within twenty-one days from the date of the
order, why the case should not be dismissed for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 11. Exactly twenty-one
days later, on February 21, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a letter
with the Court requesting that the action be transferred to
the Middle District of Pennsylvania, where several cases
relating to the same automobile accident are pending. ECF No.
18. Plaintiffs have not responded to the order to show cause.
speaking, a court lacks power to issue an order in a matter
over which the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction."
Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C. v. Hernandez, No.
05-CV-l 135, 2005 WL 2148994, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 6, 2005).
This rule applies no less in cases where, as here, a court is
asked merely to transfer an action to a different venue; a
court may not issue a transfer order if it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. See Id.
at *3 ("Since this court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the instant matter, no order transferring
the case may be issued." (collecting cases)); see
also, e.g., In Suk Chai v. Big Boy Coach, Inc.,
No. 13-CV-746, 2013 WL 5676484, at *2-3 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 17,
2013) (remanding motor-vehicle negligence case to state
court-and declining to consider a motion to transfer
venue-upon concluding that subject-matter jurisdiction was
lacking). The rule plainly applies here.
Court need not belabor the jurisdictional analysis, which is
straightforward. It is hornbook law that, in general, a
federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction over a case
only if (i) diversity of citizenship between the parties
exists and the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000 or (ii)
the case "arises under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. §§
1331-1332. Here, diversity jurisdiction does not exist,
because complete diversity is lacking: As pled in the
complaint, at least two of the defendants are, like
Plaintiffs, citizens of New York. See Compl."
ffif 2-3, 5, 10. The Court has federal-question jurisdiction
if and only if (i) federal law creates the cause of action or
(ii) the cause of action, though created by state law,
"poses a substantial federal question." W. Nth
St. Commercial Corp. v. 5 W. Nth Owners Corp., 815 F.2d
188, 192 (2d Cir. 1987). Neither of these two conditions is
satisfied here. Plaintiffs' only asserted causes of
action, negligence and loss of consortium, are common-law
torts governed by state law, and as pled these state-law
claims do not raise any federal questions. Plaintiffs cannot
overcome this fundamental deficiency through their citations
to the Commerce Clause and a hodgepodge of provisions from
title 49 relating to the powers of the Secretary of
Transportation. See Compl. ffif 16-18. At bottom,
this action is an automobile negligence case between
non-diverse parties; absent unusual circumstances, it belongs
in state court-and no such unusual circumstances have been
pled. Accordingly, the Court lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction over this action.
concluded that subject-matter jurisdiction is lacking, the
Court declines to address the merits of Plaintiffs'
request to transfer this case to the Middle District of
Pennsylvania. With no subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court
lacks power to issue a transfer order-or any order-and must
dismiss the case.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' transfer request is
denied, and this action is dismissed for lack of