United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING ACTION FOR LACK OF
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
April 29, 2019, Plaintiff filed this pro se action against
Defendant complaining about a data breach in 2017, where
hackers stole the personal and financial information of
millions of Americans through Defendant's computer
systems. Because Plaintiff's initial complaint did not
satisfy the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a), the Court entered an order on April 30, 2019,
requiring him to file an amended pleading. (Order, ECF No.
5.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on May 21, 2019.
(Am. Compl., ECF No. 8.) Although Plaintiff does not set
forth any specific claims in his Amended Complaint, he is
seeking damages of $75 million and asserts subject matter
jurisdiction based on diversity. (Id. at 3, 5, Pg ID
district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and their
powers are enumerated in Article III of the United States
Constitution. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Hudson v.
Coleman, 347 F.3d 138, 141 (6th Cir. 2003). Therefore, a
“lack of subject matter jurisdiction would make any
decree in the case void and the continuation of the
litigation in federal court futile ….”
Eastman v. Marine Mech. Corp., 438 F.3d 544, 549-50
(6th Cir. 2006) (quotation marks and citation omitted). The
party seeking to invoke a federal court's jurisdiction
has the burden of establishing the court's authority to
hear the case. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Federal
courts have “an independent obligation to investigate
and police the boundaries of their own jurisdiction.”
Douglas v. E.G. Baldwin & Assocs., Inc., 150
F.3d 604, 607 (6th Cir. 1998), abrogated on other grounds
by Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 515-16
jurisdiction exists “where the matter in controversy
exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interests
and costs, and is between- (1) citizens of different States .
. . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). For purposes of §
1332, a corporation is a citizen of the state in which it is
incorporated and where it has its principal place of
business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). Plaintiff indicates in
his Amended Complaint that he is a citizen of Michigan.
Plaintiff does not identify Defendant's citizenship;
however, it appears that Defendant is a Georgia corporation
with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia.
See In re Equifax, Inc. Customer Data Sec.
Breach Litig., No. 1:17-md-2800-twt (N.D.Ga. filed Dec.
6, 2017). Thus, there is diversity of citizenship
between Plaintiff and Defendant.
the Court turns to whether Plaintiff can satisfy the amount
in controversy requirement. In a federal diversity action,
the amount in controversy alleged in the complaint will
suffice unless it appears to a legal certainty that the
plaintiff in good faith cannot claim the jurisdictional
amount. Klepper v. First Am. Bank, 916 F.2d 337, 340
(6th Cir. 1990) (citing St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v.
Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288-89 (1938)). The
“[m]ere averment of the amount claimed to be in
controversy is not enough to confer jurisdiction.”
Breault v. Feigenholtz, 380 F.2d 90, 92 (7th Cir.
1967). As the Sixth Circuit has expressed:
“…The authority which the statute vests in the
court to enforce the limitations of its jurisdiction
precludes the idea that jurisdiction may be maintained by
mere averment or that the party asserting jurisdiction may be
relieved of his burden by any formal procedure. If his
allegations of jurisdictional facts are challenged by his
adversary in an appropriate manner, he must support them by
competent proof. And where they are not so challenged the
court may still insist that the jurisdictional facts be
established or the case be dismissed, and for that purpose
the court may demand that the party alleging jurisdiction
justify his allegations by a preponderance of the
evidence.” Gafford v. General Elec. Co., 997
F.2d 150, 160 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting McNutt v. General
Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936)).
stated above, Plaintiff is seeking $75 million in damages
from Defendant. Plaintiff does not identify the form of
damages he is seeking. More importantly, he does not identify
any actual damages that he has suffered as a result of the
alleged theft of his personal and financial information.
There is no indication in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
that anyone has actually engaged in the unauthorized use of
his information (for example, to obtain credit), that he
incurred any burden and cost of heightened monitoring to
protect his information from misuse, or that he incurred any
actual loss as a result of the data breach. Even if Plaintiff
can seek punitive damages for any claim he is pursuing
against Defendant, such damages must bear some relationship
to his actual damages. See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.
v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 416 (2003) (The Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the imposition
of grossly excessive or arbitrary punishments on a
these reasons, it appears that Plaintiff cannot in good faith
claim damages that meet the amount-in-controversy
requirement. As such, this federal court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over his Amended Complaint. The Court,
therefore, is dismissing this matter. The
dismissal is without prejudice, as Plaintiff
can pursue his claim(s) against Defendant in a state court or
re-file in federal court if he can present facts suggesting
that the jurisdictional amount has been met.
IS SO ORDERED.
In re Equifax, Inc. Customer Data
Sec. Breach Litigation is a pending multi-district case
arising from the same data breach that is the subject of
Plaintiff's lawsuit. It is a class action lawsuit and
includes a sub-class of Michigan residents and citizens who
claim injury as a result of the breach. See Consol.
Consumer Class Action Complaint, In re Equifax, Inc.