United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
JOHN T. HIGGINS, Plaintiff,
CITY OF MELROSE, et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION
TO DISMISS [DOCKET NO. 16]
JENNIFER C. BOAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
City of Melrose has moved to dismiss pro se
plaintiff John T. Higgins' complaint. Docket No.
For the following reasons, this Court recommends that the
District Judge assigned to this case grant the motion.
December 20, 2018, Higgins filed his complaint, using a model
form for pro se litigants. Docket No. 1. In the
section asking him to identify the basis for jurisdiction,
Higgins chose federal question. Id. at 3. In the
section asking him to identify the applicable federal
statutes, federal treaties, and/or provisions of the United
States Constitution giving rise to the case, Higgins wrote
“STATE AUTHORITY VS MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY.”
support of his claims, Higgins alleges that:
City of Melrose authorized tow of my car to Stephan's
[sic] Auto Body on Tremont St. Melrose. My claim is that city
tow/hold authorization is not valid, because land on side of
train tracks is state property, and as such, city needs state
authorization before towing vehicle.
No. 1 at 4.
named as defendants the City of Melrose and Stephen's
Auto Body & Towing Services. Id. at 2. It is not
clear whether he also intended to name Gail Infurna, the
Interim Mayor of Melrose, and Stephen Longmuir, the principal
of Stephen's Auto Body & Towing, as defendants in
this action. See Id.
City of Melrose moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the
grounds that the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on the grounds that Higgins'
complaint fails to state a claim.
federal court generally may not rule on the merits of a case
without first determining that it has jurisdiction over the
category of claim in suit (subject-matter jurisdiction) and
the parties (personal jurisdiction).” Sinochem
Int'l Co., Ltd. v. Malaysia Int'l Shipping
Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 430-31 (2007). Therefore, this
Court first addresses the jurisdictional issue.
The Defendant's Motion To Dismiss Based On Lack Of
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Destek Group,
Inc. v. State of New Hampshire Pub. Util. Comm'n,
318 F.3d 32, 38 (1st Cir. 2003). The party claiming that
there is jurisdiction carries the burden of showing that the
court has jurisdiction. Murphy v. United States, 45
F.3d 520, 522 (1st Cir. 1995).
complaint, Higgins asserts that the Court has subject-matter
jurisdiction on the basis of a federal question. Docket No. 1
at 3. A federal question exists if a civil action is one
“arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The federal
question must be stated “on the face of the
plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint.”
Lopez-Muñoz v. Triple-S Salud, Inc., 754 F.3d
1, 4 (1st Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). Higgins has failed
to state what law or statute the Defendants allegedly
violated. In the section asking for the basis for federal
question jurisdiction, he wrote only “STATE AUTHORITY
VS MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY.” It appears that Higgins is
alleging that the City of Melrose violated state law when it