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Lifchits v. Integon National Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 5, 2019

PAVEL LIFCHITS, Plaintiff,
v.
INTEGON NATIONAL INSURANCE CO., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court (1) grants the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis; (2) denies the plaintiff's motion for time to serve summons; and (3) directs the plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 26, 2018, pro se plaintiff Pavel Lifchits of Framingham, Massachusetts, filed a complaint for damages arising out of an April 9, 2018 car accident with a school bus in Queens, New York. See Complaint (“Compl.”), Dkt. No. 1. For relief, plaintiff seeks “compensation” of $82, 500.00. Id. at ¶ IV (relief). Named as defendants are the school bus owner, Key 4U Transportation Corp. (“Key 4U”) of New York, and its insurer, Integon National Insurance Company (“Integon”) of North Carolina Id. at ¶ I(B) (the defendants).

         As an initial matter, the Court's records indicate that the plaintiff filed a virtually identical complaint on June 27, 2018. See Lifchits v. Integon Nat'l Ins. Co., et al., 18-11348-RGS. By Electronic Order dated November 30, 2018, the defendants' motions to dismiss were allowed because the threshold of $75, 000 for diversity jurisdiction was not plausibly alleged. Id. Lifchits has now refiled the same claim with a change in the relief requested. In addition to seeking $4, 500 for the amount of property damage sustained to his vehicle, he now seeks an additional $78, 000, purportedly for litigation expenses. See Compl. at ¶ IV (relief).

         On February 4, 2019, Lifchits filed a motion seeking additional time to serve the summons on the defendants. See Dkt. No. 5.

         II. IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         Upon review of Lifchits motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court concludes that he is without income or assets to pay the $400.00 filing fee. The motion is therefore granted.

         III. SCREENING OF THE ACTION

         When a plaintiff seeks to file a complaint without prepayment of the filing fee, summonses do not issue until the Court reviews the complaint and determines that it satisfies the substantive requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Section 1915 authorizes federal courts to dismiss a complaint if the claims therein lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         In addition to screening, the Court has an independent obligation to inquire, sua sponte, into its subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”); McCulloch v. Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2004). It is long-settled that “[t]he party invoking federal jurisdiction has the burden of establishing that the court has subject matter jurisdiction over the case.” Amoche v. Guar. Trust Life Ins. Co., 556 F.3d 41, 48 (1st Cir. 2009) (citing cases).

         In conducting this review, the Court liberally construes the complaint because the plaintiff is proceeding pro se. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Rodi v. New Eng. Sch. of Law, 389 F.3d 5, 13 (1st Cir. 2004). However, as set forth below, plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to establish diversity jurisdiction.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         District courts 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Given the fact that the parties in this action ...


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