United States District Court, D. New Jersey
APPEARANCES: Marcia Copeland Pro Se Plaintiff
M. North, Esquire Attorney for Defendant Newfield National
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court by way of Defendant Newfield
National Bank's motion [Doc. No. 4] to dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process, or,
in the alternative, to quash service of process. Plaintiff
Marcia Copeland, appearing pro se, opposes Defendant's
motion. The Court has considered the parties'
submissions, and decides this matter pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 78.
Court has determined sua sponte that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over this matter, will therefore dismiss this
matter, and deny Defendant's motion to dismiss as moot.
first section of Plaintiff's Complaint, entitled
“Federal Jurisdictional Codes”, sets forth two
purported bases for the Court's exercise of jurisdiction
in this matter. (Pl.'s Compl. [Doc. No. 1], 1.)
Initially, it appears Plaintiff seeks to bring claims against
Defendants for purported violations of the Federal Trade
Commission Act (hereinafter, “FTCA”) with respect
to a failed real estate transaction that occurred in
2016. Thus, Plaintiff seems to assert that the
Court may exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal
law claims under the FTCA pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Additionally, Plaintiff sets forth a more general,
broad-based assertion of “discrimination” as a
basis for jurisdiction.
the Court's review of the Complaint, it appears that in
December of 2016, Plaintiff worked with a relator by the name
of Bob Maz in an attempt to purchase a property located at
116-118 Cooper Street, Woodbury, New Jersey. (Pl.'s
Compl., 1-2.) The property was listed by Defendant Gazzara
Realty, and the listing agent involved in the transaction was
Defendant Lynda Gazzara. (Id. at 2-3.) Exhibit 1 to
the Complaint demonstrates that the property which Plaintiff
sought to purchase was “bank owned” by Defendant
Newfield Bank. (Ex. 1 to Pl.'s Compl., 1.) Plaintiff
claims that she made a cash offer to purchase the property,
and despite the pending offer, did not receive a
counter-offer or any substantive response to her offer.
(Pl.'s Compl., 2-3.)
alleges, in broad terms, that Defendants engaged in deceptive
advertising, failed to disclose information that the property
in question was being pursued by another buyer, and engaged
in deceptive trade practice to deprive Plaintiff from
purchasing the property in question. (Id.) Plaintiff
requests the following forms of relief from the Court: (1)
dismissal of the second offer made on the property; (2) that
the Court forward an “official complaint” to the
Real Estate Commission; (3) triple damages based on the price
the second buyer paid to acquire the property; and (4) any
other remedies permissible under the laws against deceptive
advertising and discrimination. (Id. at 3.)
Defendant Newfield Bank subsequently moved to dismiss the
Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(5) on the basis of
insufficient process of service. (Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss
[Doc. No. 4].) In the alternative, Defendant argues that the
Court should quash service.
the various arguments presented in the pending motion to
dismiss, Defendants do not challenge the Court's exercise
of jurisdiction over Plaintiff's alleged FTCA claims.
However, as the Third Circuit has held, “[f]ederal
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and when there is
a question as to our authority to hear a dispute, ‘it
is incumbent upon the courts to resolve such doubts, one way
or the other, before proceeding to a disposition on the
merits.'” Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592
F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Carlsberg Res. Corp. v.
Cambria Sav. & Loan Ass'n., 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d
Cir. 1977)). Accordingly, federal courts have an independent
obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte and may do so at any stage of the litigation.
Adamczewski v. Emerson Elec. Co., No. 10-4862, 2011 WL
1045162, at *1 (D.N.J. Mar. 22, 2011) (citing Meritcare Inc.
v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217 (3d Cir.
1999), overruled on other grounds by Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 125 S.Ct. 2611, 162
L.Ed.2d 502 (2005)). Therefore, although the parties have not
specifically raised the issue of the Court's subject
matter jurisdiction at this time,  the Court must determine as
a threshold matter whether the exercise of jurisdiction is
proper in this case before ruling on the merits of the
pending motion. In re Caterbone, 640 F.3d 108, 111 (3d Cir.
2011) (noting courts must “‘determine whether
subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a
challenge from any party'”) (citation omitted).
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has
previously explained that “[t]he role of the courts in
the enforcement of the Federal Trade Commission Act is one
that comes into play primarily only after the Commission has
set its administrative processes in motion. The court's
role is not one of direct enforcement but one related to the
administrative process-in part supervisory and in part
collaborative.” Holloway v. Bristol-Myers Corp., 485
F.2d 986, 1002, (D.C. Cir. 1973). The D.C. Circuit has
concluded that “[a] fair reading of the statute and its
legislative history evinces a plain intent by Congress to
make the administrative program for enforcing the Federal
Trade Commission Act an exclusive one. ... To imply a private
right of action to ...