United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge
Del Pilar Pose Beiro, proceeding pro se, commenced
this action by filing a form complaint against the CFA
Institute and its legal counsel, Lisa Sharp. The plaintiff
has not paid the filing fee but will be granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis for purposes of initial
review of her complaint. For the following reasons, the court
concludes that the case must be dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3).
to the complaint, the plaintiff resides in London, England.
She previously completed an exam offered through the CFA
Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia. It appears that the
plaintiff did not pass the exam. She alleges that the parties
"verbally agreed" that she would
2, Docket No. 2. Although the plaintiff "recorded the
conversation as proof of the verbal agreement, the defendants
have advised her that "no regrade offer" was made
and that "they do not want to regrade [the plaintiffs]
exam." Id. The plaintiff indicates that she
wants to receive a passing score so that she can proceed to
the next level of the program.
form complaint includes a section regarding the "Basis
for Jurisdiction." Id. at 3. In that section,
the plaintiff indicates that she is invoking the court's
federal question jurisdiction. Id. In response to a
question regarding the statutory or constitutional provisions
on which her complaint is based, the plaintiff cites to a
provision of the Virginia Uniform Computer Information
Transactions Act. See id (citing Virginia Code
§ 59.1-507.1, titled "Breach of contract; material
breach"). The plaintiffs complaint does not specify an
amount in controversy.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), which governs in forma
pauperis proceedings, the court has a mandatory duty to
screen initial filings. Eriline Co. S.A. v. Johnson,
440 F.3d 648, 656-57 (4th Cir. 2006). The court must dismiss
a case "at any time" if the court determines that
the complaint is "frivolous" or "fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C.
pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the court "must dismiss" an action
"[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
"[Q]uestions of subject-matter jurisdiction may be
raised at any point during the proceedings and may (or, more
precisely, must) be raised sua sponte by the
court." Brickwood Contractors. Inc. v. Datanet
Engineering. Inc.. 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. "They possess
only that power authorized by Constitution and statute."
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). Generally, a case can be originally filed in
a federal district court if there is federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or diversity of
citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
reviewed the plaintiffs complaint, the court is constrained
to conclude that it must be dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff has not alleged any
violation of federal law that might support the exercise of
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and the court is
unable to discern any possible violation of federal law based
upon the allegations contained in the complaint. See
28 U.S.C. § 1331 (limiting jurisdiction to claims
"arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the
United States"). Furthermore, the plaintiffs complaint
fails to invoke the court's diversity jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1332, since it does not satisfy the
threshold amount in controversy requirement. See 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a) (providing for diversity jurisdiction
only "where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000"); see also Hammes v. AAMCO
Transmissions, Inc., 33 F.3d 774, 778 (7th Cir. 1994)
("In a diversity case, ... it is not enough for the
plaintiff to allege that the claim is within the diversity
jurisdiction; the complaint must allege the citizenship of
the parties and the amount in controversy.").
reasons stated, the court will grant the plaintiffs motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. However, her
complaint will be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil
Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion
and the ...