United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
October 19, 2005.
ALVIN McCANN, Plaintiff,
GREYHOUND LINES, INC., Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT KUGLER, Magistrate Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Defendant
Greyhound Lines, Inc. ("Greyhound"), to dismiss the complaint of
Plaintiff pro se Alvin McCann ("McCann") on the basis that McCann
failed to file an amended complaint by March 29, 2005, as
required by Order of the Honorable Joel B. Rosen, signed March 8,
2005. For the reasons set forth below, the suit is dismissed for
lack of jurisdiction and Greyhound's motion is dismissed as moot.
McCann purchased a ticket to ride a Greyhound bus from
Charlotte, North Carolina, to New Jersey on or around June 13,
2004. He alleges that he asked a bus driver named McNealy which
bus to take, and McNealy responded in a hostile manner,
preventing McCann from boarding the bus. As a result, McCann missed the bus for which he purchased the ticket and had to wait
for another bus that did not arrive until four hours later.
McCann alleges that the wait exacerbated existing illnesses and
violated the contract created when he bought a ticket.
McCann filed suit on July 9, 2004, asserting claims "in the
amount of $79.00 in compensatory damages and $2'500.000 [sic]
punitive damages for negligence."*fn1 This Court dismissed
McCann's complaint without prejudice on February 1, 2005, for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). In so doing, this Court determined
that neither McCann's complaint, nor the additional allegations
provided in his opposition to Greyhound's motion to dismiss,
constituted the requisite "short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P.
This Court also found that, even construing McCann's complaint
liberally "so `as to do substantial justice,' keeping in mind
that pro se complaints in particular should be construed
liberally," Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir.
2003), McCann's complaint did not state a viable federal cause of
action. Because McCann asserted an insufficient amount in controversy to qualify for diversity jurisdiction and failed to
state a claim under federal law, this Court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
McCann filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint and
reinstate the case on February 8, 2005. The Honorable Joel B.
Rosen granted McCann's motion on March 8, 2005; however, as of
October 18, 2005, McCann has not filed an amended complaint.
Greyhound moved to dismiss McCann's complaint on July 8, 2005,
and McCann now asks the Court to accept his motion for leave to
amend as an amended complaint.
Because McCann's suit must be dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, regardless of whether this Court chooses to
honor Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend as an amended
complaint, this Court will not reach the merits of Plaintiff's
Unlike state courts, federal courts are forums of limited
jurisdiction. See 13 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure, § 3522 (2d ed. 1987)). A
district court cannot preside over a case unless Congress has
granted it authority. See Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v.
Kroger, 437 U.S. 365 (1978). Because McCann has failed to
establish the presence of subject matter jurisdiction, this Court
lacks the power to hear the case, and McCann's complaint must be
dismissed. Plaintiff's allegations of diversity jurisdiction are
unfounded. He claims damages in the amount of $2,579.00, which
are insufficient to meet the statutory requirement of a minimum
amount in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Additionally, he
appears to allege that he is a citizen of New Jersey, (Pl.'s Opp.
Mot. Dismiss ¶ 9, filed Sept. 16, 2004), but also alleges that
Greyhound is incorporated in both New Jersey and North Carolina,
(Pl.'s Mot. Amend Compl. ¶ 2, filed Feb. 8, 2005). Accordingly,
because the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of the same
state, this Court lacks diversity jurisdiction under
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
McCann also does not raise a federal question that would create
subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. While McCann
makes a number of arguments in support of his right to bring suit
in federal court, none of these averments of jurisdiction enable
this Court to serve as a forum for this case.
McCann first alleges jurisdiction based on
49 U.S.C. § 14706(d)(3). Although § 14706(d)(3) does bestow federal courts
with jurisdiction over cases brought under § 14706, this section
addresses only the "liability of carriers under receipts and
bills of lading" and is therefore inapplicable to the present
McCann also claims that as an interstate "transporter,"
Greyhound is a state actor, subject to the jurisdiction of the federal courts. This argument, too, must fail as there exist no
grounds for considering Greyhound a state actor. Courts treat
actions by private parties, such as Greyhound, as state actions
only if there is such a "close nexus between the State and
challenged action" that private behavior "may be fairly treated
as that of the State itself." Brentwood Acad. v. Tennessee
Secondary Sch., 531 U.S. 288, 295 (2001). There is no such nexus
present here, and no justification exists for finding state
action in the facts alleged.
Finally, McCann claims jurisdiction on the basis that Greyhound
is a business "which is severely depicted as in the public
interest and any violation of the interest of the public can be
heard in district court." (Pl.'s Mot. Am. Compl., filed Feb. 8,
2005, ¶ 6). Because federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction, however, McCann's assertion is simply untrue. In
the absence of diversity jurisdiction or other congressional
authorization, district courts can only hear "civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States." 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331. This Court has no power to hear
suits that are not based on federal law, unless that authority is
granted in a statute by Congress. See e.g., Insurance Corp. of
Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694,
702 (1982). This is true even if the public interest is at stake.
Accordingly, this Court lacks jurisdiction over the present case and McCann's complaint must be dismissed pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3).
The accompanying Order shall enter today.
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