United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
V. ACOSTA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Washie Ouma ("Ouma") filed this lawsuit pro
se against five defendants: Tyler Asher
("Asher"), David H. Long ("Long"),
Liberty Mutual Insurance ("Liberty"), Katherine
Morton ("Morton"), and the Katherine Morton Law
Office ("Law Office") (collectively,
the court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("Rules")
12(b)(2), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6). (Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 13 ("Motion").) For the reasons
set forth below, this action should be dismissed without
prejudice for lack of jurisdiction, . and Defendants'
Motion should be DENIED as MOOT.
17, 2018, Ouma commenced this action by filing a
court-supplied form complaint in United States District Court
for the District of Oregon. (Compl., ECF No. 1
("Compl.").) Though the Complaint is not easily
decipherable, its allegations apparently stem from events
surrounding a lawsuit adjudicated in Oregon state court to
which Ouma was party. (Compl., Attach. I("Statement"), at 2-3.) The case
concerned a car accident involving Ouma. (Id.) The
opposing party was the other driver represented by legal
counsel retained by his insurer, Safeco Insurance Company
("Safeco"), which is ostensibly owned by Liberty
Mutual Insurance Group. (Statement, at 1.) At trial, Safeco
introduced into evidence emergency room records which
presumably documented the injuries Ouma sustained in the
accident. (Id. at 3.) The judgment subsequently
entered by the state court was adverse to Ouma, who alleges
the unfavorable state court judgment was reached in reliance
on the emergency room records that were "intentionally
forged/stole [n]" by an unidentified Safeco employee for
use as evidence in that case. (Id. at 1-3.) Ouma
claims Defendants have "re-victimized and re-harmed
[him] and . . . have added an insult to some of the injuries
caused ... by their negligent insured driver."
(Id. at 2.)
Complaint names Ouma, a resident of Oregon, as the sole
plaintiff. (Compl., at 2.) Though five defendants are listed
in the case caption, the Complaint names only Asher and Long,
both residents of Massachusetts, and Morton, a resident of
Oregon, in the space provided for "The Defendants."
(Id. at 2-3.) As a basis for jurisdiction, Ouma
checked both boxes on page 4 of the Complaint, indicating
that both diversity and federal question jurisdiction apply
in this case. With respect to diversityjurisdiction, Ouma
names only Asher, reiterating Asher's Massachusetts
address, and Liberty, which Ouma lists as being incorporated
under the laws of Oregon with its principal place of business
in Massachusetts. (Id. at 4-5.) As the basis for
federal question jurisdiction, Ouma identifies a federal
criminal statute - 18 U.S.C. § 1028 ("Section
1028") - which criminalizes "[f]raud and related
activity in connection with identification documents,
authentication features, and information." (Compl., at
4.) Ouma seeks money damages exceeding $5 million dollars.
(Id. at 6.)
state courts, federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am.,
511 U.S. 375, at 377 (1994). Thus, federal courts can
hear only those types of cases authorized by Article III of
the United States Constitution or by statute. Bender v.
Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986).
"It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this
limited jurisdiction[.]" Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at
377 (internal citation omitted). "The objection that a
federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised
by aparty, or by a court on its own initiative, at any stage
in the litigation, even after trial and the entry of
judgment." Arbaugh v. Y& H Corp., 546 U.S.
500, 506 (2006) (internal citations omitted). Accordingly, a
federal court must dismiss those cases over which it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction and may do so sua
sponte. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); Arbaugh, 546
U.S. at 514.
Ninth Circuit has instructed, however, courts must
"continue to construe pro se filings
liberally," Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342
(9th Cir. 2010). A complaint filed pro se
"'must be held to less, stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, '" Id.
(quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(per curiam)). A pro se litigant will be given leave
to amend his or her complaint unless it is clear that the
deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment.
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir.
has divided a district court's subject matter
jurisdiction under Article III into three categories: (1)
federal question jurisdiction - those cases arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States,
pursuant to 28 U.S. C, § 1331 ("Section
1331"); (2) diversity jurisdiction - cases involving
citizens of diverse states, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332
("Section 1, 332"); and (3) cases of admiralty law
under 28 U.S.C. § 1333. The presence or absence of
federal question jurisdiction "is governed by the
'well-pleaded complaint rule,' which provides that
federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is
presented on the face of the plaintiffs properly pleaded
complaint." Caterpillar v. Williams, 482 U.S.
386, 392 (1987), Alternatively, whether diversity
jurisdiction exists is dependent on the following
requirements: (1) the amount in controversy must exceed $75,
000, exclusive of interests and costs, and (2) there must be
complete diversity of citizenship among the parties. 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). More simply, if any defendant is a
citizen of the same state as the plaintiff, diversity is
destroyed and the court lacks jurisdiction unless a federal
question applies. Tosco Corp. v. Communities for a Better
Env't, 236 F, 3d495, 499 (9th Cir. 2001).
Motion does not challenge the existence of subject matter
jurisdiction in this case. Nevertheless, this court has an
independent obligation to confirm it has the power to decide
the controversy before it. Ruhr gas AG v. Marathon Oil
Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999) Because Ouma claims both
federal question and diversity jurisdiction apply, the court
analyzes each in turn.