United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DISMISSAL
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the court is Defendant's “Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint.” (Dkt. #3.) Defendant
CitiMortgage, Inc., removed this case from Wayne County
Circuit Court, (Dkt. #1), and has not filed an Answer.
Plaintiff City of Detroit has filed a response to the motion,
(Dkt. #5), and Defendant has filed a reply, (Dkt. #6). The
court also issued an order for Defendant to show cause for
why the case should not be remanded to state court for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction, (Dkt. #8), and Defendant has
filed a response, (Dkt. #10). After reviewing the briefs, the
court concludes that a hearing is unnecessary. See
E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the following reasons, the court
will not remand to state court and will not dismiss
filed a collection action in Wayne County court to recover
what it alleges are delinquent property taxes owed for the
years 2010, 2011, and 2012 across ten separate properties.
Its complaint alleges that Defendant's name appears
either on property tax bills or somewhere within the chain of
title for each property, which allowed it to assess related
property taxes against the Defendant. The properties were
then allegedly sold at foreclosure in 2013 for a price below
the outstanding tax debt, so Plaintiff now seeks to collect
from Defendant the remaining debt of $67, 154.01, plus
interest, penalties, and administrative fees. Within its
brief, but not in its complaint, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant ignored mailed notices that taxes were due for
several years before the foreclosure.
argues that Plaintiff's claims are deficient because it
has not adequately alleged that the property tax assessments
were lawful. Plaintiff has not claimed that Defendant
actually owned an interest in the property during the
relevant years, which Defendant argues is prerequisite to a
valid assessment comporting with due process. Plaintiff
responds that to the extent that these arguments have merit,
they were waived when Defendant failed to appear and lodge
them before the Michigan Tax Tribunal, which enjoys exclusive
jurisdiction over such questions. It argues further that the
Tax Injunction Act (“TIA”), 28 U.S.C. §
1341, prohibits this court from enjoining, suspending, or
restraining the collection of these state taxes. In reply,
Defendant argues that it could not have waived any argument
before the Michigan Tax Tribunal because it lacked a
sufficient property interest to have standing to challenge an
assessment in that forum, that the collection of an
unlawfully assessed tax is contrary to the statutory scheme,
and that the TIA does not apply in collection actions such as
court has also raised the issue of subject matter
jurisdiction. It is immaterial that Plaintiff has not
challenged the subject matter jurisdiction of this court.
“Not only may a court raise subject-matter jurisdiction
sua sponte, it must.” CMS North
America, Inc., v. De Lorenzo marble & Tile,
Inc., 521 F.Supp.2d 619, 632 (W.D. Mich. 2007) (citing
Clarke v. Mindis Metals, Inc., No. 95-5517, 99 F.3d
1138, 1996 WL 616677, at *3 (6th Cir. 1996)). Defendant
removed this case on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The
court will thus address the presence of diversity
jurisdiction in this case.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
courts are not courts of general jurisdiction and have only
the power that is authorized by Article III of the
Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant
thereto.” Marine Equip. Mgmt. v. United
States, 4 F.3d 643, 646 (8th Cir. 1993). “It is to
be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited
jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary
rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994).
U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over claims based on a
federal question and claims with complete diversity of
citizenship between parties. Title 28 U.S.C. § 1332
defines diversity jurisdiction. It provides, in pertinent
part, that “[t]he district courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of
different states.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) (2006).
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), therefore, the two
requirements for diversity jurisdiction are (1) that the
matter in controversy exceed $75, 000.00, and (2) that
complete diversity exist between the disputing parties.
Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Under the Rule, the court construes the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff and accepts all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true. League of
United Latin Am. Citizens v. Bredesen, 500 F.3d 523, 527
(6th Cir. 2007). This standard requires more than bare
assertions of legal conclusions. Bovee v. Coopers &
Lybrand C.P.A., 272 F.3d 356, 361 (6th Cir. 2001).
“[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Any claim for relief
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007).
“Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need
only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide
sufficient facts to “state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “The plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555). Additionally, on a motion to dismiss, a court
is usually limited to the complaint and attached exhibits,
but it may also consider “public records, items
appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to
the defendant's motion to dismiss so long as they are
referred to in the complaint and are central to the claims
contained therein.” Erie County v. Morton
Salt, Inc., 702 F.3d 860, 863 (6th Cir. 2012)
(quoting Bassett v. Nat'l Coll. Athletic
Ass'n., 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008)).