United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
DAVID B. BOWEN, Plaintiff,
DEANNA WILLIAMS, WILLIAM WILLIAMS, and all other occupants, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge John K.
Larkins, III's Final Report and Recommendation
(“Final R&R”) , which recommends remanding
this action to the Magistrate Court of Newton County.
in early May 2018, Plaintiff David B. Bowen
(“Plaintiff”) initiated a dispossessory
proceeding against his tenants, Deanna Williams and William
Williams (“Defendants”), in the Magistrate Court
of Newton County, Georgia (the “Newton County
Action”). On May 24, 2018, Defendant Deanna
Williams, proceeding pro se, removed the Newton
County action to this Court, and on May 25, 2018, she filed
the Notice of Removal. (See , ). Although Ms.
Williams does not allege a basis for jurisdiction in the
Notice of Removal, stating only that she “ha[s] at this
time filed [an] appeal, ” she does identify federal
question jurisdiction on her civil cover sheet. ([1.1] at 1;
[1.2] at 1).
25, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued the Final R&R,
recommending the Court remand the action to the Magistrate
Court of Newton County, Georgia. The parties did not file
objections to the Final R&R.
conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and
recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or
modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright, 681
F.2d 732 (11th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S.
1112 (1983). A district judge “shall make a de
novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). With
respect to those findings and recommendations to which
objections have not been asserted, the Court must conduct a
plain error review of the record. United States v.
Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983), cert.
denied, 464 U.S. 1050 (1984). Where, as here, the
parties have not filed objections to the Final R&R, the
Court reviews for plain error.
courts “have an independent obligation to determine
whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v.
Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 501 (2006). The Eleventh
Circuit consistently has held that “a court should
inquire into whether it has subject matter jurisdiction at
the earliest possible stage in the proceedings. Indeed, it is
well settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire
into subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever
it may be lacking.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco
Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999). “Federal
courts exercise limited jurisdiction and generally can hear
only actions that either meet the requirements for diversity
jurisdiction or that involve a federal question.”
Kivisto v. Kulmala, 497 Fed.Appx. 905, 906 (11th
Cir. 2012). Diversity jurisdiction exists where the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the suit is between citizens
of different states. 28 U.S.C § 1332(a).
“[F]ederal-question jurisdiction may be based on a
civil action alleging a violation of the Constitution, or
asserting a federal cause of action established by a
congressionally created expressed or implied private remedy
for violations of a federal statute.” Jairath v.
Dyer, 154 F.3d 1280, 1282 (11th Cir. 1998). “The
removing party bears the burden of proof regarding the
existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction.”
City of Vestavia Hills v. Gen. Fidelity Ins. Co.,
676 F.3d 1310, 1313 n.1 (11th Cir. 2012).
Magistrate Judge first found federal question jurisdiction
lacking because “the underlying case is a state
dispossessory action containing no federal claim.” (
at 2). The Magistrate Judge noted that “[e]ven if
Williams wishes to raise counterclaims based on federal
statutes, this Court may look only to the complaint itself to
determine whether there is federal question jurisdiction over
the action.” (Id. at 2-3). The Magistrate
Judge next found diversity jurisdiction lacking because
“[Plaintiff's] dispossessory claim against Williams
cannot be reduced to a monetary sum for purposes of
satisfying the amount-in-controversy requirement in §
1332(a).” (Id. at 3); see also 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a); Citimortgage, Inc. v.
Dhinoja, 705 F.Supp.2d 1378, 1382 (N.D.Ga. 2010)
(holding that only the plaintiff's claim may satisfy the
amount-in-controversy requirement, and an action seeking
ejectment cannot be reduced to a monetary sum for purposes of
determining the amount in controversy).
Court finds no plain error in the Magistrate Judge's
findings or recommendation. Because the Court lacks both
federal question and diversity jurisdiction, this action is
required to be remanded to state court. See 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”).
foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
Magistrate Judge John K. Larkins, III's Final Report ...