United States District Court for the District of Columbia
June 7, 2004.
CHRISTOPHER ROBERTS, Plaintiff,
ALEN J. SALERIAN, M.D., Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICARDO URBINA, District Judge
GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
The plaintiff brings this medical-malpractice case against the
defendant, a psychiatrist who allegedly misdiagnosed the plaintiff's
psychiatric disorder and prescribed unsuitable medication that not only
failed to improve but exacerbated the plaintiffs actual condition.
Compl. ¶ 21. The complaint premises the court's jurisdiction on
diversity of citizenship, alleging that the plaintiff is a Maryland
resident while the defendant is a resident of the District of Columbia.
Id. ¶¶ 1-2.
On May 25, 2004, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for want of
subject-matter jurisdiction, stating that there is no diversity of
citizenship between the parties because, like the plaintiff, he too
resides in Maryland. Def.'s Mot. at 2; Def.'s Aff. ¶ 2. In response,
the plaintiff filed a submission styled as an "opposition," explaining
that his efforts to ascertain the defendant's address resulted in what he
believed to be "several listings for [the d]efendant in the District of
Columbia." Pl.'s Opp'n at 1. Interestingly enough, while the plaintiff
characterizes his response as an opposition, he nonetheless takes the
defendant at his word, having no reason to assume that the defendant is being less than forthright, and "consents to
the dismissal of this action without prejudice."*fn1 Id. at 1. Instead
of wastefully attempting to make heads or tails from the plaintiffs
response, the court assumes that the plaintiff defends against the
defendant's jurisdictional attack and moves forward to resolve the matter
on the relative strength of the briefs.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and the law presumes
that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); St. Paul Mercury
Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288-89 (1938); see also Gen.
Motors Corp. v. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 363 F.3d 442, 448 (D.C. Cir. 2004)
(noting that "[a]s a court of limited jurisdiction, we begin, and end,
with an examination of our jurisdiction"). On a motion to dismiss for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing that the court has subject-matter jurisdiction. Evans v.
B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999); Rasul v. Bush,
215 F. Supp.2d 55, 61 (D.D.C. 2002) (Kotelly, J.) (citing McNutt v. Gen.
Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 182-83 (1936)).
Subject-matter jurisdiction may exist in federal district court when
the suit involves an amount in controversy that exceeds $75,000 and the
parties are diverse in citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); DeBerry v. First Gov't Mortgage & Investors Corp.,
170 F.3d 1105, 1106 n.l (D.C. Cir. 1999); see also Stevenson v. Severs,
158 F.3d 1332, 1334 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (per curiam) (identifying the
$75,000 amount-in-controversy requirement for federal diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)).
Because the plaintiff seeks to recover $300,000 in damages for his
malpractice claim, he easily satisfies the amount-in-controversy
requirement under the diversity statute. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Compl. at
5. To satisfy the complaint's proffered basis for subject-matter
jurisdiction, however, diversity of citizenship between the parties must
also exist. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The defendant provides his own
affidavit affirming his Maryland address and residency. Def.'s Aff. ¶
2. The plaintiff, who also holds himself out as a Maryland resident,
fails to rebut the defendant's proffer, thereby debilitating his
jurisdictional claim. McNutt, 298 U.S. at 182-83; Evans, 166 F.3d at
647; Rasul, 215 F. Supp.2d at 61; Compl. ¶ 1; see generally Pl.'s
Whereas it appears that the parties on each side of this litigation are
citizens of the same jurisdiction and the plaintiff has done nothing to
demonstrate otherwise, the court concludes that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction over the controversy. Id.; 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
Accordingly, it is this 7th day of June 2004,
ORDERED that the defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.