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Morgan v. Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

April 10, 2017

CAROLINE MORGAN,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, et al.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         TO: THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Federal Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 7); Travis County's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 10); Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Dkt. No. 11); Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Notice of Removal (Dkt. No. 12); Plaintiff's Motion to Stay All Court Proceedings (Dkt. No. 13); Federal Defendants' Response to Motion to Dismiss Notice of Removal (Dkt. No. 14); and Federal Defendants' Response to Motion to Stay (Dkt. No. 15). The District Court referred the above motions to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), Fed.R.Civ.P. 72, and Rule 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Rules.

         I. GENERAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Caroline Morgan brings this action against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Office of the Clerk for the U.S. District Court Western District of Texas, District Judge Sam Sparks, the United States Marshal Service, Office of the Clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit, Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement, Circuit Judge Edward C. Prado, Circuit Judge Leslie H. Southwick, Office of the Clerk for the Supreme Court of the United States (collectively Federal Defendants), Travis County Clerk's Office, Travis County Sheriff, and the UPS Store #1671. Morgan originally filed this suit in Travis County to enjoin the defendants “from colluding against [Morgan] when she goes to file court documents, when she files court documents, when judgment is ruled on court documents, and when she receives court documents.” Dkt. No. 1-1 at 10. Specifically, Morgan argues that she was “stalled in her security screening process by U.S. Marshals and Travis County Sheriff” and was “denied local court rules, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Supreme Court Rules, and Judicial rules” in violation of her rights. Id. at 10-11.

         The FBI removed the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a), and the Federal Defendants immediately moved to dismiss all claims. The Federal Defendants argue that this Court does not have jurisdiction over Morgan's claims, or in the alternative, that she has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Travis County likewise moves to dismiss all claims against the Sheriff and the County Clerk's office. Morgan filed a motion to dismiss the notice of removal by the FBI, but has not responded to either motion to dismiss.[1]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to assert lack of subject-matter jurisdiction as a defense to suit. Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and may only exercise such jurisdiction as is expressly conferred by the Constitution and federal statutes. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A federal court properly dismisses a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when it lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the case. Home Builders Assn. of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). “The burden of proof for a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss is on the party asserting jurisdiction.” Ramming v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 536 U.S. 960 (2002). “Accordingly, the plaintiff constantly bears the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.” Id. In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the court may consider any one of the following: (1) the complaint alone; (2) the complaint plus undisputed facts evidenced in the record; or (3) the complaint, undisputed facts, and the court's resolution of disputed facts. Lane v. Halliburton, 529 F.3d 548, 557 (5th Cir. 2008)

         III. ANALYSIS

         Morgan seeks to enjoin the defendants from colluding to prevent her from exercising her constitutional rights. The defendants first allege that this Court does not have jurisdiction over Morgan's claims under the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction. Both the Federal Defendants and Travis County Defendants contend that they are immune from suit in Texas state courts. In the alternative, the defendants argue that Morgan has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         A. Federal Defendants

         The Federal Defendants move to dismiss Morgan's claims on the basis of the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction. This doctrine states that “when a case is removed from state to federal court, the jurisdiction of the federal court is derived from the state court's jurisdiction.” Lopez v. Sentrillon Corp., 749 F.3d 347, 350 (5th Cir. 2014); see also Colonial Cty. Mutual Ins. Co. v. United States, No. SA-15-CV-917, 2015 WL 7454698, *2 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 23, 2015); Schlorff v. Dig. Eng'g & Imaging, Inc., No. 16-11016, 2016 WL 6276882, *2 (E.D. La. Oct. 27, 2016).[2] In Lopez, the court found that because the United States had not waived sovereign immunity in state court for claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, removal to federal court did not cure the state court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at 351. Thus, even if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the claims, the district court's subject matter jurisdiction after removal is limited to that of the state court's. Id. at 350. While the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction no longer applies to removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, the Fifth Circuit still applies the doctrine to removal under Section 1442. Id. Here, the FBI removed this case pursuant to Section 1442(a), which allows for removal for any claims against a federal official or agency. 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a). Thus, this Court would not have jurisdiction over any claims that could not have been brought against the Federal Defendants in state court.

         In her state court petition, Morgan requests injunctive relief against the Federal Defendants for a number of alleged actions. However, Morgan failed to identify a waiver of sovereign immunity for the relief sought in state court. See F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994) (“Absent a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government and its agencies from suit.”); cf. Lopez, 749 F.3d at 351 (finding that even though the United States waived its sovereign immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act, it granted exclusive jurisdiction to federal courts).[3] Accordingly, the state court was without jurisdiction to ...


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