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Mattera v. Ultimate Motors, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 6, 2019


          John A. Mattera, pro se



         THIS CAUSE came before the Court upon the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).[1] On November 16, 2018, pro se Plaintiff John A. Mattera (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint against the Defendants, Ultimate Motors, Inc. and Michael Gordon [ECF No. 1]. On January 30, 2019, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP Motion”) [ECF No. 5]. Even construing the Plaintiff's pleading liberally, the Court does not find a basis for federal question jurisdiction.[2] The Plaintiff has merely alleged a contractual dispute with a private party-a dispute that appears to be entirely ancillary to the disposition of his criminal case.[3]

         “A federal court not only has the power but also the obligation at any time to inquire into jurisdiction whenever the possibility that jurisdiction does not exist arises.” Fitzgerald v. Seaboard Sys. R.R., Inc., 760 F.2d 1249, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985) (citations omitted). “[O]nce a federal court determines that it is without subject matter jurisdiction, the court is powerless to continue.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999).

         Although the Court must liberally construe pro se pleadings, “pro se litigants are nonetheless required to conform their pleadings to procedural rules.” Hanna v. Florida, 599 Fed.Appx. 362, 363 (11th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). To state a claim for relief, a pleading must contain: “(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction []; (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and (3) a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a) (alteration added). To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Pleadings must present “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted).

         The Plaintiff purports to state four separate causes of action: 1) “Violation of Asset Freeze and Florida UCC Regulations”; 2) “Breach of Contract/Fraud”; 3) “Conversion/Civil Theft in Violation of Florida Statute 772.11”; and 4) “Unjust Enrichment.” See generally Pl. Compl. The Plaintiff makes no attempt to state a cause of action that might trigger federal question jurisdiction. Only in passing, in Count I, does the Plaintiff even reference a federal statute-18 U.S.C. § 402, a federal criminal contempt statute that does not create a private right of action. Pl. Compl. ¶ 22.

         The Plaintiff, a private citizen, may not enforce the federal criminal code. In any event, 18 U.S.C. § 402 does not provide a private right of action for violations of its terms. Johnson v. Champions, 990 F.Supp.2d 1226, 1245 (S.D. Ala. 2014) (“Absent some expression of Congressional intent to create a private right of action, a plaintiff cannot maintain a civil claim against a defendant for violation of a federal criminal statute.”); see also Gonzaga Univ. v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273, 283-84 (2002) (“The question of whether Congress intended to create a private right of action is definitively answered in the negative where a statute by its terms grants no private rights to any identifiable class.”) (citations omitted); Love v. Delta Air Lines, 310 F.3d 1347, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 2002) (indicating that criminal statutes generally do not provide a private cause of action). The Plaintiff cannot state a claim for relief under 18 U.S.C. § 402, and the Court does not otherwise have jurisdiction to entertain the Plaintiffs claims. Accordingly, The Court hereby ORDERS that the Complaint [ECF No. 1] be DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk is instructed to mark the case as CLOSED, and all pending motions are DENIED as moot.




[1] The Plaintiff has not paid the required filing fee, and therefore the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) apply. Under that statute, courts “shall dismiss” a suit “any time [] the court determines that . . . (B) the action or appeal: (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” Id. § 1915(e)(2) (alterations added).

[2] Federal courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

[3] The Complaint also does not invoke the Court's diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332-which makes sense because at least one Plaintiff and one Defendant are ...

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