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Hunter v. Bugg

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 28, 2019

ROBERT L. HUNTER, Plaintiff,
v.
VERDELL E. BUGG, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HOLLY L. TEETER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se Plaintiff Robert L. Hunter[1] brings this action against Verdell and Earlene Bugg, People's Insurance Group, [2] and David Kellett, a claims specialist at State Farm. Doc. 5. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Docs. 14, 21, 23. Because Plaintiff fails to establish a basis for subject-matter jurisdiction, the Court grants the motions and dismisses this case without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Although the underlying allegations are difficult to discern, Plaintiff's claims stem from a fire and insurance dispute. Plaintiff leased property in Topeka, Kansas, from Verdell and Earlene Bugg. On one occasion, Verdell Bugg restored electricity at the leased property. At some point, a fire ensued at the leased property and caused damage. People's Insurance Group denied coverage because Verdell Bugg failed to make payments.

         Plaintiff then filed this lawsuit against Defendants and alleged diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff is a citizen of Kansas. In the amended complaint, he lists Kansas addresses for Verdell Bugg, Earlene Bugg, and People's Insurance Group, and a Georgia address for Kellett. Verdell and Earlene Bugg and People's Insurance Group answered the amended complaint, but Kellett moved to dismiss. Subsequently, Verdell and Earlene Bugg and People's Insurance Group also moved to dismiss. All the motions are under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and argue that Plaintiff fails to establish subject-matter jurisdiction.[3]

         II. STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion presents either “(1) a facial attack on the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations as to subject matter jurisdiction; or (2) a challenge to the actual facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction is based.” Ruiz v. McDonnell, 299 F.3d 1173, 1180 (10th Cir. 2002). When the motion to dismiss is a facial attack, the Court presumes the veracity of the complaint's allegations. Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendants seek to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint in its entirety arguing the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. For the following reasons, the Court agrees that Plaintiff fails to establish diversity jurisdiction and that dismissal is warranted.

         Plaintiff, as the party seeking to invoke subject-matter jurisdiction, bears the burden of establishing it. Full Life Hospice, LLC v. Sebelius, 709 F.3d 1012, 1016 (10th Cir. 2013). There are two primary avenues for subject-matter jurisdiction: federal question and diversity. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332(a). Plaintiff does not assert federal-question jurisdiction, and this Court discerns no federal law implicating its jurisdiction. Thus, Plaintiff must establish diversity jurisdiction to defeat these motions.

         Diversity jurisdiction requires diversity of citizenship among the parties and an amount in controversy over $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Plaintiff alleges $100, 000 in damages, which satisfies the amount in controversy component. Doc. 5 at 4. But he fails to establish diversity of citizenship. Specifically, “[d]iversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity-no plaintiff may be a citizen of the same state as any defendant.” Grynberg v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., 805 F.3d 901, 905 (10th Cir. 2015). Based on the allegations, Plaintiff, Defendants Verdell and Earlene Bugg, and Defendant People's Insurance Group are citizens of Kansas. Thus, complete diversity is lacking.[4] Because Plaintiff fails to establish diversity jurisdiction, the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and must dismiss this case without prejudice.

         IV. CONCLUSION

         THE COURT THEREFORE ORDERS that Defendants' motions to dismiss (Docs. 14, 21, 23) are GRANTED. This ...


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