United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
E. Hudson United States District Judge Richmond, Virginia
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction with Roseboro, filed
November 10, 2017. (ECF No. 7.) The Defendants included an
appropriate Roseboro Notice as required by Local Civil Rule
7(K) and the Fourth Circuit's decision in Roseboro v.
Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975).
parties have filed memoranda supporting their respective
positions. The Court will dispense with oral argument because
the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in
the materials before the Court, and oral argument would not
aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Local Civ. R. 7(J).
reasons that follow, the Court determines that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction and therefore must dismiss
Plaintiffs Complaint in its entirety.
Nasir Alim Bey ("Plaintiff) was hired as a bricklayer by
Defendant Bearing Contracting, LLC ("Bearing") on
February 21, 2017. (Compl. 2, ECF No. 4.)Defendant Thomas
Cornell Berry III ("Berry") is the Vice President
of Bearing, and Defendant Jason Guard ("Guard") is
a foreman for Bearing. (Id.) In the paperwork
required for his employment, Plaintiff identified himself as
a member of the Moorish Nation, and on February 28, 2017,
Plaintiff was informed by Defendant Guard that he needed to
provide additional documentation as the Moorish Nation is not
recognized by the United States. (Id.) On March 1,
2017, Plaintiff met with Defendant Berry to discuss his
deficient documentation and produced an "Allodial
American National Identification" card and an
"Unalienable Right to Travel" card. (Id.
at 2, Ex. E.) On March 2, 2017, Defendant Berry informed
Plaintiff that this documentation was insufficient and that
Bearing required additional documentation, namely a Social
Security Number. (Id. at 2.) On the same day,
Defendant Berry provided Plaintiff with a check for the value
of the hours Plaintiff had worked. (Id. at 5.) The
check was a "Vendor" check, not a "Paycheck,
" and bore the notation that it was for the sale of a
saw blade. (Id. at 3, 5, 6, Ex. J.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S 375, 377
(1994). They possess only such power as is authorized by the
Constitution or conferred by statute. Id. "The
requirement that jurisdiction be established as a threshold
matter 'spring[s] from the nature and limits of the
judicial power of the United States' and is
'inflexible and without exception.'" Steel
Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env % 523 U.S. 83, 94-95
(1998) (quoting Mansfield, C. & L.M.
Ry. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884)). Accordingly,
the Court may "or, more precisely, must" raise
issues of subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte if it
appears at any time during the proceedings that the
court's exercise of jurisdiction would be improper.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3); Brickwood Contractors, Inc. v.
Datanet Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir.
2004) (citing Bender v. Williamsport Area Sh. Dist,
475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). Plaintiffs have the burden of
proving subject-matter jurisdiction. Piney Run Pres. Ass
'n v. County Comm 'rs of Carroll Cnty., Md, 523
F.3d 453, 459 (4th Cir. 2008). A court determining whether
jurisdiction exists "may consider evidence outside the
pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for
summary judgment." Richmond, Fredericksburg &
Potomac R.R. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th
addition, the Court acknowledges the liberal construction
afforded to pro se complaints. Laber v. Harvey, 438
F.3d 404, 413 n. 3 (4th Cir.2006). The Court, however, need
not attempt "to discern the unexpressed intent of the
plaintiff." Id. Nor does the requirement of
liberal construction excuse a clear failure in the pleading
to allege a federally cognizable claim. Weller v. Dep
't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). As
the Fourth Circuit explained in Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, "[t]hough [pro se ] litigants cannot, of
course, be expected to frame legal issues with the clarity
and precision ideally evident in the work of those trained in
law, neither can district courts be required to conjure up
and decide issues never fairly presented to them." 775
F.2d 1274, 1276 (4th Cir. 1985).
principal means through which a federal district court
obtains subject-matter jurisdiction are 28 U.S.C. § 1331
and 28 U.S.C. § 1332, federal-question and diversity
federal-question jurisdiction, "district courts shall
have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under
the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. "[T]he vast
majority of cases brought under the general federal-question
jurisdiction of the federal courts are those in which federal
law creates the cause of action." See Merrell Dow
Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986). The
well-pleaded complaint rule requires that federal-question
jurisdiction be evident from the face of a plaintiff s
properly pleaded complaint. See Id. Dismissal for
want of jurisdiction is only appropriate where the
allegations supporting jurisdiction are "wholly
unsubstantial or frivolous." Kerns v. United
States, 585 F.3d 187, 193 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Be//v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682 (1946)).
diversity jurisdiction, a federal district court has original
jurisdiction over all civil actions where the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1). With the exception of certain class
actions, Section 1332 requires complete diversity among
parties, meaning that the citizenship of every plaintiff must
be different from the citizenship of every defendant.
Cent. W.Va. Energy Co. v. Mt. State Carbon, LLC, 636
F.3d 101, 103 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Caterpillar, Inc.
v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996).
outset, the Court notes that it is difficult to discern from
Plaintiffs Complaint precisely what cause of action he is
asserting. It appears that Plaintiffs claims stem from the
mislabeling of his check as a vendor check versus a paycheck
and Defendants requiring him to provide additional
documentation as a condition of employment. The Complaint
also does not identify whether jurisdiction is predicated on
diversity of ...