United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
CATHERINE T. RIVERA, Plaintiff,
ANNA HIGHSMITH, and LEM HIGHSMITH, Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
se plaintiff Catherine Rivera brought this case to
protect her alleged rights as a life tenant, among other
claims. See docs. 1 & 4. Her original Complaint
failed to establish this Court's subject matter
jurisdiction and her application to proceed in forma
pauperis (IFP) failed to establish her indigency.
See docs. 1 & 2. The Court ordered her to amend
her Complaint and supplement her application, doc. 3, and she
complied, docs. 4 & 5. Although it appears that she is
indigent, the Complaint fails to establish this Court's
subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, her IFP motion is
GRANTED, docs. 2 & 5, but her Complaint should be
Court's previous Order explained, federal courts are
courts of limited jurisdiction, and a plaintiff must overcome
a presumption that the federal court lacks jurisdiction.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1993). "In a given case, a federal district
court must have at least one of three types of subject matter
jurisdiction: (1) jurisdiction under a specific statutory
grant; (2) federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331; or (3) diversity jurisdiction pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)." Baltin v. Alaron Trading
Corp., 128 F.3d 1466, 1469 (11th Cir. 1997) (cites
omitted). Courts have an obligation to investigate the basis
of their jurisdiction, see, e.g., Arbaugh v. Y&H
Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006), and if that's
lacking, then "the court must dismiss the action, "
alleges that this Court has jurisdiction based on the
presentation of a federal question. See doc. 4 at 6, 8.
But the facts she alleges fail to support that. She must
plead a specific statutory grant of jurisdiction or that this
case arises "under the Constitution, laws, or treaties
of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
"Whether a claim arises under federal law ... is
generally determined by the well-pleaded complaint rule,
which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a
federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiffs
properly pleaded complaint." Smith v. GTE
Corp., 236 F.3d 1292, 1310 (11th Cir. 2001) (quotes and
allegations suggest that she seeks to vindicate her rights as
a life tenant in the property where she lives or lived, and
that Highsmith breached a contract. See doc. 4 at
3-5. She also alleges that Anna Highsmith "took monies
from [her] trust fund." Id. at 4. All of these
claims are creatures of state, not federal,
See, e.g., O.C.G.A. §§ 44-6-80 - 44-6-90
(governing "life estates" in real property);
O.C.G.A. §§ 53-12-1 et seq. (The Revised
Georgia Trust Code of 2010). Since no federal claims appear
on the face of her Complaint, she has not overcome the
presumption against jurisdiction, so her Complaint should be
Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3.
Within 14 days of service, any party may file written
objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on
all parties. The document should be captioned
"Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendations." Any request for additional time to
file objections should be filed with the Clerk for
consideration by the assigned district judge.
the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district
judge. The district judge will review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendations pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that
failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver
of rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v.
V.A. Leasing Corp., 648 F.App'x 787, 790 (11th Cir.
2016); Mitchell v. U.S., 612 F.App'x 542, 545
(11th Cir. 2015).
REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED.
 Her amended allegations show that this
Court does not have diversity jurisdiction. Diversity
jurisdiction requires, among other things, that the parties
are "citizens of different States." 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1). "Citizenship is the equivalent of
'domicile' for purposes of diversity jurisdiction
..." which "is the place of his true, fixed, and
permanent home and principal establishment, and to which he
has the intention of returning whenever he is absent
therefrom." McCormick v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d
1254, 1257-58 (11th Cir. 2002). Rivera alleges that both she
and Anna Highsmith reside in Savannah, Georgia. Doc. 4 at 2.
Thus both appear to be citizens of the State of Georgia,
precluding diversity jurisdiction.
 Rivera's allegations, even as
amended, are hardly clear. Where a plaintiff has been allowed
to proceed without paying the full filing fee, the Court must
"dismiss the case at any time, if the court determines
that. . . [it] fails to state a claim on which relief can be
granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Although
Rivera's allegations are cogent enough for the Court to
discern their general thrust, it is not clear that they are
sufficient to state a claim. See, e.g., Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (a viable
"complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true to state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face." (quotes and cite omitted)). But since the
Court's subject matter jurisdiction is not sufficiently
established, further analysis of the claims' factual
bases is unnecessary.
In addition to the amended Complaint Rivera submitted
to comply with the Court's directive, she has also
submitted a second amended Complaint. That document is a
printout of her original filed Complaint with additional
marginal notations. Doc. 7. Several of the notations list
Mary Highsmith among the defendants, although there are no
clear allegations against her. Id. at 1, 6. Whatever
Rivera's intent in submitting the second amended
Complaint, like the first two, it fails to show any basis for
this Court's jurisdiction.
 Rivera has attached a printout
referencing IRS regulations concerning the treatment of life
tenancies for tax purposes. See doc. 4 at 8. At the
bottom of the printout, Rivera has written "[m]ore proof
federal law [sic]." Id. However, even liberally