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Gay v. Unlever Trumbull, C.T.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 28, 2013

MAURICE GAY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNLEVER TRUMBULL, C.T., Defendant.

Maurice Gay, Trenton, NJ, Plaintiffs pro se.

OPINION

PETER G. SHERIDAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Maurice Gay, a prisoner confined at Trenton State Prison in Trenton, New Jersey, seek to bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights.[1]

At this time, the Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief, or for any other reason under applicable statutes and rules.

I. BACKGROUND

The following factual allegations are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this review.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Unlever Trumbull C.T.[2] distributed "bad soap" which caused him skin problems. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the total amount of $30, 000.00.

II. ANALYSIS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires the plaintiff in a federal action to set forth "a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends." Federal courts are bound to determine whether they have jurisdiction even if none of the parties to an action have challenged the asserted bases therefor. Packard v. Provident National Bank , 994 F.2d 1039 (3d Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Upp v. Mellon Bank, N.A. , 510 U.S. 964 (1993); Temple Univ. v. White , 941 F.2d 201 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied sub nom. Snider v. Temple Univ. , 502 U.S. 1032 (1992); TM Marketing, Inc. v. Art & Antiques Assocs., L.P. , 803 F.Supp. 994 (D.N.J. 1992). Indeed, "a plaintiff, suing in a federal court, must show in his pleading, affirmatively and distinctly, the existence of whatever is essential to federal jurisdiction, and, if he does not do so, the court... must dismiss the case, unless the defect be corrected by amendment." Smith v. McCullough , 270 U.S. 456, 459 (1926). A court can take no measures to rectify a want of jurisdiction, because the lack of jurisdiction itself precludes asserting judicial power. See First American Nat'l Bank v. Straight Creek Processing Co. , 756 F.Supp. 945 (E.D. Va. 1991) (where diversity of parties is incomplete, court has no jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's motion to dismiss nondiverse defendants; rather, court must dismiss action for lack of jurisdiction). As explained more fully below, this Complaint does not meet the requirements either for federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or for diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

A. 28 U.S.C. § 1331

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, Congress has established jurisdiction in the federal district courts over "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Although Plaintiff asserts that his claim arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, thus invoking § 1331 federal-question jurisdiction, the facts pleaded reveal no claim arising under § 1983.

More specifically, Section 1983 provides in relevant part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....

Thus, to state a claim for relief under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege, first, the violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and, second, that the alleged deprivation was committed or caused by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins , 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Piecknick v. Pennsylvania , 36 F.3d 1250, 1255-56 (3d Cir. 1994). The basis of Plaintiff's action, however, is that the defendant distributed "bad ...


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