United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
LARRY A. FALK PLAINTIFF
MOTEL 6 CORPORATION DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED-STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
filed a Complaint (ECF No. 1) and Application to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 2) on November 30, 2017.
In the area of the Complaint where Plaintiff was asked to
list the basis for jurisdiction, he wrote "not
known." Prior to ordering service of process, the Court
must first determine if it has jurisdiction over this case.
to the allegations of the Complaint (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff
stayed the night on April 5, 2017, at the "Motel 6 at
Santa Rosa HM #0273." Plaintiff left early the following
morning with his belongings. At noon, after having driven for
miles, Plaintiff stopped to take his prescription medication.
At that time, he noticed a "tube" in which he had
forty-three one hundred dollar bills was missing.
returned to the hotel to reclaim his money. He was told that
the hotel knew nothing about it. As relief, Plaintiff asks
that his money be returned to him; he be compensated for the
stress he suffered; and he be awarded interest from the date
of the loss.
of Plaintiffs IFP application indicates the Plaintiff does
qualify financially for IFP status. However, for the reasons
discussed below, the Court determines it does not have
jurisdiction over this case.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See, e.g.,
Godfrey v. Pulitzer Publ'g Co., 161 F.3d 1137, 1141
(8th Cir. 1998). Generally, the federal district courts may
only exercise jurisdiction over cases in which diversity of
citizenship exists and the requisite amount in controversy is
involved and those cases in which a federal question is
presented; that is, those cases involving violations of
federal constitutional or statutory law. See e.g.,
Southwestern Bell Tel. Co. v. Connect Commc'ns
Corp., 225 F.3d 942, 945 (8th Cir. 2000). "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't, 523 U.S. 83
(1998)(quoting Mansfield, C. & LMR. Co. v. Swan,
111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884)) (alteration in original)). If it
appears that jurisdiction is lacking, the Court will raise
the issue sua sponte. Dieser v. Continental Cas.
Co., 440 F.3d 920, 923 (8th Cir. 2006).
is no basis for federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiff does
not allege that his federal constitutional or statutory
rights were violated in any way.
other possible basis of subject matter jurisdiction is
diversity of citizenship. To establish diversity of
citizenship, two requirements must be met: (1) the parties
must be citizens of different states; and (2) the amount in
controversy must exceed $75, 000 exclusive of costs and
interest. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Plaintiff indicates he is
a citizen of Arkansas and that Motel 6 is incorporated in
Texas and has its principal place of business in Texas. The
parties therefore appear to be of diverse citizenship.
respect to the amount in controversy, Plaintiff left behind
in his hotel room $4, 300. He has named as the Defendant the
hotel in which he stayed. The only possible civil remedy
available would appear to be conversion. In addition to
seeking return of the money, Plaintiff seeks damages in an
unspecified amount for "stress."
federal courts have developed a principle that if the
defendant (or the district judge) challenges the satisfaction
of the jurisdictional amount requirement it will succeed only
if it is shown that there is a legal certainty that the
amount in controversy cannot be recovered." 14AA Charles
Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice
& Procedure § 3702 (4th ed. 2017). In this
case, in order to reach the jurisdictional amount, Plaintiff
would have to establish that the total amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. In assessing the amount in controversy, the
court may "make reasonable deductions, reasonable
inferences, or other reasonable extrapolations from the
pleadings to determine whether it is facially apparent"
that the jurisdictional amount is in controversy. Roe v.
Michelin North America, Inc., 613 F.3d 1058, 1062-63
(11th Cir. 2010)(internal quotations and citations omitted).
As a matter of law, the Court concludes the jurisdictional
amount could not be recovered on the facts alleged in this
Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
this case. The case is ...