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Jefferson v. Osterholt

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 22, 2019

DAVID JEFFERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS E. OSTERHOLT, Defendant,

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on its own motion. On June 3, 2019, the Court ordered plaintiff to show cause why his complaint should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Docket No. 8). Plaintiff was given thirty days from the date of the order in which to respond in writing. He has not responded. Therefore, for the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's complaint will be dismissed without prejudice. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

         Background

         Plaintiff is a pro se litigant who filed a complaint against defendant Thomas E. Osterholt on January 22, 2019. (Docket No. 1). He also filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis and a motion to appoint counsel. (Docket Nos. 2-3).

         In the complaint, plaintiff indicated that the basis of this Court's jurisdiction was 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 stated: “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 stated, 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).

         Plaintiff supplemented these allegations with several exhibits that were sent to the Court after the filing of the complaint. (Docket No. 6).[1] The exhibits included 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 noted that defendant Osterholt is the attorney for Neighborhood Gardens Apartments and filed an action against plaintiff seeking unpaid rent.

         Plaintiff sought damages in the amount of $74, 999 for loss of income and back pain, apparently in relation to the aforementioned car accident in Wyoming.

         On June 3, 2019, the Court granted plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, but denied his motion to appoint counsel. (Docket No. 8). The Cour t also order ed plaintiff to show cause why his case should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. He was given thirty days in which to respond. However, plaintiff has failed to comply.

         Discussion

         Plaintiff 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 claimed this constituted “housing discrimination.” For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Subject 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 ...


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