United States District Court, E.D. California
GREGORY G. HOLLOWS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a person who was involved in a traffic accident, has filed a
complaint against Allstate, and literally hundreds of
individuals, asserting a violation of California state
insurance law, and an alleged claim of discrimination in the
offering of insurance benefits.
court is unable to determine a jurisdictional basis for this
action. A federal court is a court of limited jurisdiction,
and may adjudicate only those cases authorized by the
Constitution and by Congress. See Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The United
States Constitution dictates this result insofar as Article
III, section 1 provides that the judicial power of the United
States is vested in the Supreme Court, “and in such
inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain
and establish.” Congress therefore confers jurisdiction
upon federal district courts, as limited by Article III,
section 1. See Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S.
689, 697-99 (1992). Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may
be raised at any time by either party or by the court.
See Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Products,
Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-595 (9th Cir.1996). The burden to
establish jurisdiction rests upon the plaintiff who seeks
access to the federal court. Thompson v. McCombe, 99
F.3d. 352, 353 (9th Cir. 1996). Plaintiff has
failed to meet this burden.
Federal Question Jurisdiction
basic federal jurisdiction statutes, 28 U.S.C. §§
1331 & 1332, confer “federal question” and
“diversity” jurisdiction, respectively. Statutes
which regulate specific subject matter may also confer
federal jurisdiction. See generally, W.W. Schwarzer,
A.W. Tashima & J. Wagstaffe, Federal Civil Procedure
Before Trial § 2:5. Unless a complaint presents a
plausible assertion of a substantial federal right, a federal
court does not have jurisdiction. See Bell v. Hood,
327 U.S. 678, 682 (1945). A federal claim which is so
insubstantial as to be patently without merit cannot serve as
the basis for federal jurisdiction. See Hagans v.
Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 537-538 (1974).
reference to federal law does not create subject-matter
jurisdiction. Avitts v. Amoco Prod. Co., 53 F.3d
690, 694 (5th Cir.1995). Subject-matter jurisdiction is
created only by pleading a cause of action within the
court's original jurisdiction. Id. Plaintiff
here predicates his basis for federal question jurisdiction
on a reference 28 U.S.C.§ 1331 which confers original
jurisdiction in civil cases that “aris[e] under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
ECF No. 1 at ¶ 3. Plaintiff's basic statutory claim
is a violation of California's Fair Settlement Practices
Act and adverts to no federal statute or federal
Constitutional provision the violation of which resulted in
his claimed injury. Instead he refers to 28 U.S.C. sections
2201 and 2202 which establish the availability of the
remedy of declaratory relief, but neither of those
sections confer jurisdiction. In other words, under these
statutes if there is an independent basis for federal
jurisdiction, the court may award declaratory relief, but the
fact that the remedy is theoretically available does not
itself create federal jurisdiction. County of
Santa Clara v. Trump, 267 F.Supp.2d 1201, 1216 (N.D.Cal.
2017). In other words, the declaratory relief sections do
not establish federal jurisdiction.
plaintiff claims jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.§ 1343,
asserting a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, but a reading
of that statute makes clear that it is a civil rights
provision which again requires allegations that a specific
federal law or Constitutional provision has been violated by
a defendant acting under color of state law. American
Mfrs. Mutual etc. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 51 (2012).
Simply doing business in a state which might be regulated by
state law does not mean that the person or entity is acting
“under color of state law.” Id. at 51.
The fact that a private company is perceived to have violated
the Constitutional right of equal protection does not itself
give rise to a federal claim under section 1983. There is,
nor does it appear that there can be, such an allegation
brought against the defendants identified in this case since
their violation, if any, relates to doing business in a state
which is simply regulated by the state law referenced in
plaintiff's complaint. Whether a claim is stated under
section 1981 is not before the court.
U.S.C. grants the federal court jurisdiction between citizens
of the state who are suing citizens of another state so long
as the damages alleged exceed $75, 000. The purpose of
diversity jurisdiction is to provide a “neutral”
forum in cases where one or more of the parties is a citizen
of another state or country and to protect against local
prejudice that may exist in state courts. J. A. Olson Co.
v. Wiona, Miss., 818 F.2d 401, 404 (5th Cir.
1987); Asher v. Pacific Power and Light Co., 249
F.Supp. 671, 674 (N.D.Cal. 1965). Here plaintiff alleges that
the first named defendant, Allstate Insurance Company, is
amenable to jurisdiction under this statute as it fits the
criteria of section 1332(c)(1), i.e., it is a corporation
incorporated under the laws of State of New York and has its
principal place of business in a State other than the State
of Connecticut. The court will assume the reference to
Connecticut is a typographical error and plaintiff meant to
say its principal place of business is not
California, thus establishing diversity between himself and
Allstate. If the court is correct, and Allstate were the
only defendant named, plaintiff would be close to
establishing diversity jurisdiction. However, he must
demonstrate complete diversity between himself and
each and every of the defendants named. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Plaintiff does not even attempt
to do so here.
light of the foregoing it is clear that the plaintiff has not
stated a viable basis for jurisdiction in this court as the
Complaint now stands. Plaintiff is further advised that if he
names individual defendants, each and every one of those
defendants must have participated in some way in the
violation of rights complained of.
THEREFORE ORDERED that:
1. The complaint is dismissed with leave to amend in
conformity with the findings of this Court;
2. Within 30 days of the date of this Order the plaintiff
will file an amended complaint; failure to do so will result
in a ...