United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the motion of plaintiff
David Jefferson for leave to commence this civil action
without prepayment of the filing fee. (Docket No. 1). Having
reviewed the information contained in the motion, the Court
finds it should be granted. Additionally, for the reasons
discussed below, the Court will order plaintiff to show cause
why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject
is a pro se litigant who has filed a civil action naming
Thomas E. Osterholt as defendant. He has indicated that the
Court's jurisdiction is based on a federal question.
(Docket No. 1 at 3; Docket No. 1-1 at 1). Specifically, in
the section of the form complaint for asserting federal
question jurisdiction, plaintiff states: “Housing
discrimination. At a hearing about an eviction in June 2018,
the lawyer refused to look at paperwork indicating the rent
had been paid.” (Docket No. 1 at 3). In his statement
of claim, plaintiff states, in full:
At [an] eviction hearing in June 2018 in St. Louis[, ] the
lawyer refused to look at proof that I was current in the
rent. I had a truck driving job waiting in Omaha, NE. He
scheduled the next hearing, and I was rear-ended on I-80 west
in Wyoming[, ] causing me to lose my job.
(Docket No. 1 at 5).
has supplemented these allegations with several exhibits that
were sent to the Court after the filing of the complaint.
(Docket No. 6). The exhibits include chat transcripts
between plaintiff and USAA; a revised IRS earned income tax
credit form from a labor law compliance service; a notice of
cancellation of insurance from USAA; a letter from the United
States Department of Veterans Affairs; a letter from the
Social Security Administration; and a docket sheet from
Neighborhood Gardens Apartments v. Jefferson, No.
1822-AC16429 (22nd Cir., City of St. Louis). Based
on the docket sheet and review of plaintiff's state court
case, the Court notes that defendant Osterholt is the
attorney for Neighborhood Gardens Apartments and filed an
action against plaintiff seeking unpaid rent.
seeks damages in the amount of $74, 999 for loss of income
and back pain, apparently in relation to the aforementioned
car accident in Wyoming.
has brought this action against defendant Thomas E.
Osterholt, alleging that at a June 2018 eviction hearing,
Osterholt refused to look at paperwork indicating that
plaintiff's rent had been paid. He claims that this
constitutes “housing discrimination.” For the
reasons discussed below, plaintiff will be directed to show
cause why this case should not be dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
matter jurisdiction refers to a court's power to decide a
certain class of cases. LeMay v. U.S. Postal Serv.,
450 F.3d 797, 799 (8th Cir. 2006). “Federal
courts are not courts of general jurisdiction; they have only
the power that is authorized by Article III of the
Constitution and the statutes enacted by Congress pursuant
thereto.” Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch.
Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). See also Gunn v.
Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (“Federal courts
are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only that
power authorized by Constitution and statute”). The
presence of subject matter jurisdiction is a threshold
requirement that must be assured in every federal case.
Kronholm v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 915 F.2d 1171,
1174 (8th Cir. 1990). See also Sanders v.
Clemco Indus., 823 F.2d 214, 216 (8th Cir.
1987) (“The threshold requirement in every federal case
is jurisdiction and we have admonished the district court to
be attentive to a satisfaction of jurisdictional requirements
in all cases”). As such, the issue of subject matter
jurisdiction may be raised at any time, by any party or the
court. Gray v. City of Valley Park, Mo., 567 F.3d
976, 982 (8th Cir. 2009).
courts have subject matter jurisdiction over both federal
question cases and diversity of citizenship cases. See
Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Tribal Court of Spirit Lake Indian
Reservation, 495 F.3d 1017, 1020 (8th Cir.
2007) (finding that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking if
neither diversity of citizenship nor federal question
jurisdiction applies); and McLaurin v. Prater, 30
F.3d 982, 984-85 (8th Cir. 1994) (noting that
Congress has directed that district courts shall have
jurisdiction in both federal question and diversity cases).
Here, plaintiff has indicated that the basis of this
Court's jurisdiction is federal question jurisdiction. As
explained below, however, neither federal question nor
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction is apparent on the face
of the complaint.