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Ramchanndani v. Gahdhi

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

May 21, 2019




         This cause comes before the Court for consideration without oral argument on the following motion:

FILED: December 6, 2018
THEREON it is ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED in part.

         I. Background

         a. The First Case

         On October 25, 2017, Plaintiff Mahesh Ramchanndani[1] and two of this family members, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint that contained allegations in relation to a commercial lease; there was no indication in the Complaint as to why this Court had subject matter jurisdiction over that case. Mahesh Ramchandani et al. v. Sunit Sanghrajka et al., 6:17-cv-1848-CEM-DCI (M.D. Fla.) at Doc. 1 (hereafter the First Case).[2] Thus, on November 17, 2017, the Court entered an Order to Show Cause (First OTSC) why that case should not be dismissed for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 6. In his response to the First OTSC, Plaintiff claimed that the Court had jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (FHA). First Case at Doc. 12 at 1-3. But Plaintiff's cause of action revolved around a commercial lease, not a residential lease. See First Case at Docs. 1; 12; see 42 U.S.C. §§ 3602, 3604-3606. Thus, Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the Court had federal question jurisdiction over that matter. Plaintiff also claimed that the Court had diversity jurisdiction over that matter. First Case at Doc. 12 at 3-4. But Plaintiff did not provide the citizenship of Defendants. Id. Moreover, although Plaintiff stated that he resided in Virginia, Plaintiff did not make any allegations regarding his own citizenship.

         Thus, on January 4, 2018, the Court again ordered Plaintiff to show cause in writing why that case should not be dismissed for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. First Case at Doc. 13 (the Second OTSC). In the Second OTSC, the Court directed that, to the extent Plaintiff was claiming federal question jurisdiction, Plaintiff must specifically list all statutes, laws, or constitutional provisions that are at issue in this case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. To the extent Plaintiff was claiming diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff was required to state the citizenship of each and every party and state the amount in controversy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         On January 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. First Case at Doc. 16. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff purported to state a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1982, 1983, in relation to alleged discrimination and civil rights violations, apparently on the basis of Plaintiff's national origin. Id. Although Plaintiff made various references to state statutes as well, the only actual claim for relief tied to a specific legal theory was made pursuant to § 1982, when Plaintiff requested that the Court: “Declare Defendant's actions complained of herein to be violation of Act of 1968 as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1982.” Doc. 16 at 11. Plaintiff also requested damages in the amount of $160, 000.00, but there was no clear legal basis for that request. Id. at 10-11. Further, it appeared that Plaintiff had abandoned the FHA claim, as it was not in the Amended Complaint.

         The undersigned then entered a Report recommending that the case be dismissed without prejudice on several grounds. First Case at Doc. 24. First, the undersigned found that Plaintiff simply failed to allege any facts sufficient to state a federal claim pursuant to §§ 1981, 1982, or 1983. In particular, the undersigned stated:

As their only basis for their §§ 1981, 1982, and 1983 claim(s), Plaintiffs' recite from an email from Defendant Willow Shambeck (a realtor) to Plaintiffs' relator: “Deal is approved but being that their money is in India I need 4 months deposit. 1 month of that will be for the first month's rent.” Doc. 16 at 3. According to Plaintiffs, that email “was a discriminating statement about the Plaintiff(s) being from India and insisted more money for security deposit on June 20, 2016, violates the rights of the Plaintiff(s) to enjoy the same entitlements as any other U.S. citizen, ” giving rise to liability pursuant to §§ 1981, 1982, and 1983. The remainder of the lengthy Amended Complaint contains allegations of various facts relating to a failed frozen yogurt franchise, Plaintiffs' eventual eviction from the space leased to operate that franchise, and the state court eviction proceedings. Id. There is no other mention of any allegedly discriminatory conduct or violation of federal law. See id. Plaintiffs' sole allegation that a Defendant required four months' deposit because Plaintiffs' money was in India is not sufficient to state a cause of action under §§ 1981, 1982, or 1983.

         First Case at Doc. 24. Thus, the undersigned recommended dismissal of the federal claims.

         Next, the undersigned addressed the Court's subject matter jurisdiction and found that Plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege that jurisdiction, despite being given three opportunities to do so. First Case at Doc. 24. The undersigned found that Plaintiff had failed to allege a federal claim giving rise to federal question jurisdiction and (because Plaintiff explicitly stated that diversity jurisdiction existed) found that if Plaintiff had alleged a state claim, he failed to sufficiently allege the parties' citizenship. Id. Thus, the undersigned recommended dismissal of the Amended Complaint without prejudice. Id. Plaintiff objected to the Report, and, on September 18, 2018, the Court entered an Order overruling those objections and dismissing the First Case without prejudice. First Case at Docs. 25; 56.

         b. This Case

         Two weeks later, on October 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this case. Doc. 1. One week after that, Plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint, which remains the operative pleading. Doc. 5. The Amended Complaint appears to contain two counts: a claim for a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1982 (Count I); and a claim pursuant to Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) (Count II). Doc. 5.

         The allegations in this case revolve around the same core of facts as those in the First Case; this case concerns a failed frozen yogurt franchise. The three Defendants in this case are a subset of the six in the First Case. But other than in the opening paragraph and the certificate of service, the Defendants are never mentioned individually in the Amended Complaint. Throughout the Amended Complaint, allegations are made against “Defendant(s)” with no differentiation as to whether an allegation - or even a particular count - relates to one or all of the Defendants. Further, under the heading “Parties, ” Plaintiff states as follows:

6) During all times mentioned here in, Defendant(s) are a Limited Liability Company duly authorized and existing under and by the virtue of the laws of the State of Florida. with an office and principal place of business ...

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