United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage
MICHELLE E. ALFRED, Plaintiff,
DAVID R. CASTELLANI, Defendant
B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter arises upon Defendant David R. Castellani's
(“Defendant”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff
Michelle E. Alfred's (“Plaintiff”) suit
against him for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In the alternative,
Defendant moves for dismissal for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. See U.S.C. § 1332. Because this
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
claim, Defendant's motion to dismiss is
asserts that on December 4, 2013, she was “falsely
arrested” by the Atlantic City SWAT Team. Compl. at
After the alleged false arrest, Plaintiff states that she
conferred with an attorney, Mr. Castellani, but he did not
take her case. Id. at 5. Plaintiff asserts that Mr.
Castellani nonetheless filed false tort claims on her behalf,
knowing he did not represent Plaintiff or have
Plaintiff's permission to do so. Id. at 5-6.
Believing Mr. Castellani to be running a “scam, ”
Plaintiff maintains that she contacted the Atlantic City
Clerk, the Atlantic City Solicitor, and the Atlantic City
Solicitor's paralegal on June 26, 2014. Id.
Plaintiff asserts that despite her letter and phone calls to
the Atlantic City Clerk's Office, “nothing . . .
has been done” about the alleged false filing as of
December 3, 2014. Id. at 7. Plaintiff ultimately
filed suit against a number of defendants, though the cases
against all but one of the other defendants have subsequently
been dismissed. See Id. at 1.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3) provides that “[i]f
the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
Federal courts “have an independent obligation to
ensure they do not exceed the scope of their jurisdiction,
and therefore they must raise and decide jurisdictional
questions that the parties either overlook or elect not to
press.” Henderson ex rel. Henderson v.
Shinseki, 131 S.Ct. 1197, 1202 (2011).
terms of jurisdiction, “[t]he district courts shall
have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under
the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. “The district
courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions
where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between [ ]
citizens of different States.” Id. §
1332(a). “[T]he district courts shall have supplemental
jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to
claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that
they form part of the same case or controversy under Article
III of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C.
district courts may, however, “decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under [28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(a)] if . . . the district court has dismissed all
claims over which it has original jurisdiction.”
Id. § 1367(b); see also Oras v. City of
Jersey City, 328 F. App'x 772, 775 (3d Cir. 2009).
“Where the claim over which the district court has
original jurisdiction is dismissed before trial, the district
court must decline to decide the pendent state
claims unless considerations of judicial economy,
convenience, and fairness to the parties provide an
affirmative justification for doing so.” Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted) (emphasis in original).
is a resident of New Jersey. Compl. at 1. Defendant is a
resident of New Jersey, and operates his legal practice in
New Jersey. Id.; Def. Br. at 9. Diversity in
citizenship is therefore lacking, as both parties are
citizens of New Jersey.
claims against Defendant do not arise from the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States-they appear to be
legal malpractice claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Thus, there
is no federal question that serves as a basis for finding
subject matter jurisdiction.
jurisdiction is additionally inappropriate. In for this court
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
claims against Defendant, the claims must be “so
related to claims in the action within such original
jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy under Article III of the United States
Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
Plaintiff's allegations against Defendant may or may not
be potentially viable in a suit in New Jersey state court.
See Compl. at 6. But Plaintiff's allegations
against Defendant are not part of the same case or
controversy as the other claims in Plaintiff's initial
complaint for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
Doherty v. Teamsters Pension Trust Fund of Philadelphia
and Vicinity, 142 Fed.Appx. 573, 575 (3rd Cir. 2005)
(“[T]he state law claim, which is a garden variety
malpractice claim, arises entirely out of counsel's
performance in pursuing the federal law claims. The facts
giving rise to the two claims are entirely separate.”).
As such, this court cannot exercise supplemental
jurisdiction-there are no claims for which this court has
original jurisdiction arising from the same common nucleus of
facts as Plaintiff's claims against Defendant.
this court lacks jurisdiction to hear this case,