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Li v. Hayes

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 14, 2015

SHAOGUANG LI, Plaintiff,
v.
ELIZABETH HAYES, Defendant.

ORDER

DAVID H. HENNESSY, Magistrate Judge.

Before me are two motions.[1] Defendant Elizabeth Hayes has moved to dismiss the complaint (Docket #38), which pro se plaintiff, Shaoguang Li, opposes. Li has moved for leave to amend the complaint (Docket #44), [2] which Hayes opposes. On April 15, 2015, the parties appeared before me for a hearing on the two motions. (Docket #64).

The motion to dismiss the complaint REMAINS UNDER ADVISEMENT pending a final decision on the motion to amend the complaint. For the reasons stated on the record at the hearing, the motion to amend the complaint will be DENIED with respect to the legal claims proposed at paragraph 5 of the amended complaint for: (a) forgery, (b) fraud, and (c) conspiracy. (Docket #59-1, p.3). As explained, these proposed claims are rife with pleading defects, and allowing leave to amend the complaint to include these claims would be futile and simply generate unnecessary and expensive motion practice, in violation of the purpose of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 1.

The motion to amend the complaint REMAINS UNDER ADVISEMENT concerning Li's request to amend his complaint to assert the legal claim proposed at paragraph 5(d), for intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Id.). Hayes has opposed the amendment because, among other things, Hayes questions whether this claim involves damages of at least $75, 000 to satisfy the jurisdictional threshold set out at 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332.[3] The court appreciates Hayes' position. On the other hand, the standard for assessing a damage allegation and determining whether it supports an exercise of diversity jurisdiction is very stringent. It is as follows:

A plaintiff's general allegation of damages that meet the amount requirement suffices unless questioned by the opposing party or the court. However, once the opposing party has questioned the amount, the party seeking to invoke jurisdiction has the burden of alleging with sufficient particularity facts indicating that it is not a legal certainty that the claim involves less than the jurisdictional amount. This burden may be met by amending pleadings or submitting affidavits.

Abdel-Aleem v. OPK Biotech LLC, 665 F.3d 38, 41 (1st Cir. 2012) (internal quotations omitted) (emphasis added). This court recognizes that in assessing Li's pleadings and affidavits, pro se pleadings are construed generously. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Rodi v. New Eng. Sch. of Law, 389 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir. 2004). However, "pro se status does not insulate a party from complying with procedural and substantive law." Ahmed v. Rosenblatt, 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st Cir. 1997).

In this court's view, Li's submissions to date allege damages too generally and lack facts alleged with sufficient particularity to meet this standard. Li is hereby ORDERED to file with this court and serve on counsel, on or before May 29, 2015, an affidavit, with any appropriate exhibits that Li seeks to include, which satisfies the standard of alleging facts with sufficient particularity that indicate that it is not a legal certainty that the claim involves less than the $75, 000 jurisdictional threshold. His failure to do so may result in a complete denial of his motion for leave to amend the complaint on the ground that allowing that motion would be an exercise in futility. The court will take up the motion to dismiss the original complaint on Rule 12(b)(6) grounds, should it deny the motion to amend.[4]

It is so ordered.


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