United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pro se action has been referred to the undersigned United
States magistrate judge for initial screening under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b) and a standing order of reference from United
States District Judge Sam A. Lindsay. The undersigned issues
the following findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
recommendation that the Court should dismiss this action
without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Linda Nguyen has sued Motel 6 and entities and individuals
associated with that hotel brand based on allegations that
employees of a Motel 6 located in Addison, Texas
“committed crimes against her, ” including,
“Violations of privacy, Illegal searched [sic], Damaged
property and Discrimination.” Dkt. No. 3 at 3. Nguyen
also alleges that she filed complaints regarding her
experience at the Addison hotel with “the Motel 6
Corporate office.” Id. at 2-3.
order to better ascertain Nguyen's claims in this action
and to determine whether the Court possesses jurisdiction
over those claims, the Court has issued an order to show
cause, to which Nguyen has responded, see Dkt. Nos. 7 &
10, and a questionnaire, to which Nguyen has submitted
verified responses, see Dkt. Nos. 14 & 15.
Standards and Analysis
federal courts' jurisdiction is limited, and federal
courts generally may only hear a case if it involves a
question of federal law or where diversity of citizenship
exists between the parties. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331,
1332. Because Nguyen chose to file a lawsuit in federal
court, it is her burden to establish federal jurisdiction.
And if she fails to do so, this lawsuit must be dismissed.
See, e.g., Smith-Lindley v. Tex., Dep't of Family
& Protective Servs., No. 3:12-cv-4819-K, 2013 WL
4766850, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 5, 2013) (“A district
court must dismiss a case when the plaintiff fails to
establish subject-matter jurisdiction.” (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1))); 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.”).
diversity cases, each plaintiff's citizenship must be
diverse from each defendant's citizenship, and the amount
in controversy must exceed $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1332(a), (b).
question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331
“exists when ‘a well-pleaded complaint
establishes either that federal law creates the cause of
action or that the plaintiff's right to relief
necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question
of federal law.'” Borden v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 589 F.3d 168, 172 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust,
463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983)). “A federal question exists
‘if there appears on the face of the complaint some
substantial, disputed question of federal law.'”
In re Hot-Hed Inc., 477 F.3d 320, 323 (5th Cir.
2007) (quoting Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sch.
Dist., 44 F.3d 362, 366 (5th Cir. 1995)); see also
Jolly v. Klein, 923 F.Supp. 931, 941 (S.D. Tex. 1996)
(“In the absence of diversity of citizenship, it is
essential that a substantial federal question be presented to
support jurisdiction.” (citing Hagans v.
Levine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974))); Ayika v.
Lopez, No. EP-10-CV-456-KC, 2010 WL 5373877, at *2 (W.D.
Tex. Dec. 21, 2010) (“Establishing federal question
jurisdiction requires a ‘substantial federal
question.'” (quoting Raymon v. Alvord Indep.
Sch. Dist., 639 F.2d 257, 257 (5th Cir. Unit A Mar.
regard, it is established that the mere mention of federal
law or bare assertion of a federal claim is not sufficient to
obtain federal question jurisdiction, because “federal
courts are without power to entertain claims otherwise within
their jurisdiction if they are so attenuated and
unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit; wholly
insubstantial; obviously frivolous; plainly unsubstantial; or
no longer open to discussion.” Hagans, 415
U.S. at 536-37 (internal citation and quotation marks
omitted); see Murphy v. Inexco Oil Co., 611 F.2d
570, 573 (5th Cir. 1980) (“[T]he assertion that the
claim involves [a federal] question must be more than
incantation.”); Raymon, 639 F.2d at 257
(“[A] complaint that alleges the existence of a
frivolous or insubstantial federal question is not sufficient
to establish jurisdiction in a federal court.”
(citing Olivares v. Martin, 555 F.2d 1192, 1195 (5th
Cir. 1977); Hagans, 415 U.S. at 538-39));
Southpark Square Ltd. v. City of Jackson, Miss., 565
F.2d 338, 342 (5th Cir. 1977) (a claim “must be more
than frivolous to support federal question
Court will not assume it has jurisdiction. Rather, “the
basis upon which jurisdiction depends must be alleged
affirmatively and distinctly and cannot be established
argumentatively or by mere inference.” Getty Oil
Corp. v. Ins. Co. of N.A., 841 F.2d 1254, 1259 (5th Cir.
1988) (citing Ill. Cent. Gulf R. Co. v. Pargas,
Inc., 706 F.2d 633, 636 & n.2 (5th Cir. 1983)).
initial complaint, Nguyen failed to “affirmatively and
distantly” allege jurisdiction. For example, she failed
to specify a federal law that is implicated by her
allegations, and she neither alleges the citizenship of the
defendants nor identifies an amount in controversy. Cf.
Leach v. Indiana, No. 1:07-cv-1376-DFH-JMS, 2007 WL
4256440, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Nov. 30, 2007) (“The problem
is that plaintiff's amended complaint does not mention
federal law anywhere. The plaintiff is the master of his
complaint. If he chooses to rely solely on state law, he may
do so even if his allegations might also support a claim for
relief under federal law.” (citations omitted)).
response to the show-cause order, Nguyen specifies that she
is requesting $4 million and that - “[u]nder the
Federal law” - she is “suing for Violation of
Privacy, Illegal Search, Damage of property and
Discrimination” because her “dirty clothes which
includes [her] DNA was in [her] property that the Motel 6
employees removed from [her] hotel room.” Dkt. No. 10
at 1-2 (further providing that “Motel 6 employees
violated my human rights as well as every other right”
and that “Motel 6 employees had no right to remove my
property from my hotel room because my room was paid in full
Nguyen has failed to allege the citizenship of any defendant
but has alleged facts under which it is plausible that she
and several defendants are citizens of Texas (as some
defendants manage a hotel in Addison, Texas), the undersigned
has accepting Nguyen's assertion that she is suing under
federal law. And the court-issued questionnaire requested
that Nguyen describe in detail how each defendant violated