United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
declaratory judgment action is before the Court on Defendant
Timothy Brasfield's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Jurisdiction . Plaintiff responded, but Defendant
Brasfield declined to file a timely reply.
and Procedural History
Insurance Company filed its Complaint for Declaratory
Judgment against Defendants on September 9, 2016. Plaintiff
Wesco's request for declaratory judgment relates to a
policy of insurance it issued to Defendant Archer Landscape
Group, LLC, concerning a claim asserted by Brasfield against
Archer Landscape Group, LLC, Sellers and Strachan, which was
filed in the Circuit Court of Alcorn County, Mississippi. In
that underlying state suit, Brasfield alleges general
negligence and “special acts of negligence”
related to injuries he suffered while working with Archer
Landscape Group, LLC. Brasfield alleges that while working to
repair a broken post on a shed, he suffered serious and
permanent injuries when his arm was caught in an auger. The
incident resulted in amputation of his left arm, removal of
his spleen and a hole in his diaphragm. Wesco asserts that
the policy issued by Wesco to Archer Landscape Group, LLC
contains an exclusion for employer's liability, which
would bar Brasfield's claim from policy coverage.
Brasfield filed its Motion to Dismiss, arguing that
jurisdiction has vested in the state court, leaving the
federal district court unable to entertain Wesco's
to Dismiss Standard
argues that it is entitled to dismissal for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction and a lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) and (2). “A case is properly dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks the
statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the
case.” Home Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v.
City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998)
(quotation omitted). When the Court's subject-matter
jurisdiction is challenged, the party asserting jurisdiction
bears the burden of establishing it. King v. U.S.
Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 728 F.3d 410, 413 (5th
Cir. 2013). The party who seeks to invoke the jurisdiction of
the federal court “must prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that the court has jurisdiction based on the
complaint and evidence.” Ballew v. Cont'l
Airlines, Inc., 668 F.3d 777, 781 (5th Cir. 2012).
personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff need not establish
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence; a prima
facie showing suffices. Luv N' Care, Ltd. v.
Insta-Mix, Inc., 438 F.3d 465, 469 (5th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Wyatt v. Kaplan, 686 F.2d 276, 280 (5th
Cir. 1982)). When determining whether a prima facie
case for jurisdiction exists, “[t]he district court is
not obligated to consult only the assertions in the
plaintiff's complaint . . . [r]ather, the district court
may consider the contents of the record at the time of the
motion . . . .” Paz v. Brush Engineered Materials,
Inc., 445 F.3d 809, 812 (5th Cir. 2006). In this regard,
all “uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's
complaint must be taken as true, and conflicts between the
facts contained in the parties' affidavits must be
resolved in the plaintiff's favor.” Gatte v.
Dohm, 574 F. App'x. 327, 330 (5th Cir. 2014)
(quoting D.J. Investments Inc. v. Metzeler Motorcycle
Tire Agent Gregg, Inc., 754 F.2d 542, 546 (5th Cir.
fails to articulate its argument regarding the purported lack
of personal jurisdiction. In any event, Plaintiff properly
alleged personal jurisdiction in its Complaint and Response
to Defendant's Motion. All Defendants in this matter are
purportedly residents of Alcorn County, Mississippi, and all
Defendants were properly served in Mississippi.
this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's claims. Diversity jurisdiction, as prescribed
by 28 U.S.C. Section 1332, requires that “all persons
on one side of the controversy be citizens of different
states than all persons on the other side.” Harvey
v. Grey Wolf Drilling Co., 542 F.3d 1077, 1079 (5th Cir.
2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). For purposes of
diversity jurisdiction, the citizenship of an LLC “is
determined by the citizenship of all its members.”
Id. at 1079-80.
to Plaintiff's Complaint and Response to the Motion to
Dismiss, Plaintiff is a corporation organized and existing
under the laws of the state of Delaware, with its principal
place of business in New York, New York. Defendant Archer
Landscape Group, LLC, is a Mississippi limited liability
company organized and existing under the laws of the state of
Mississippi, with Mississippi residents as its sole members,
purportedly Gerald Sellers and his wife. Further, all
individual defendants are adult resident citizens of the
state of Mississippi. Accordingly, because there is complete
diversity of citizenship between the Plaintiff and the
Defendants, and the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of seventy-five thousand dollars, Plaintiff has met its
burden of alleging subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a).
without providing any precedent or legal justification,
Defendant moves the Court to enter an order dismissing the
action due to a lack of jurisdiction, because jurisdiction
was “vested in state court prior to filing in federal
court.” Indeed, “[a] case is properly dismissed
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction when the court lacks
the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate the
case.” Home Builders, 143 F.3d at 1010
(internal quotation marks omitted). Motions to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(1) challenge a court's “very power to
hear the case, ” and the court may therefore
“weigh the evidence and satisfy itself” that
subject matter jurisdiction exists. MDPhysicians &
Assocs., Inc. v. State Bd. of Ins., 957 F.2d 178, 181
(5th Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).
III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal
courts to cases and controversies. U.S. Parole Comm'n
v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 395, 100 S.Ct. 1202, 63
L.Ed.2d 479 (1980). Subject-matter jurisdiction to issue a
declaratory judgment exists only when there is an
“actual controversy” between the parties.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) (2012); see also
Texas v. West Publ'g. Co., 882 F.2d 171, 175 (5th
Cir. 1989). The “actual controversy” requirement
under the Declaratory Judgment Act is identical to the
“case or controversy” requirement of Article III
of the Constitution. West Publ'g. Co., 882 F.2d
at 175. “Whether particular facts are sufficiently
immediate to establish an actual controversy is a question
that must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”
Orix Credit All., Inc. v. Wolfe, 212 F.3d 891, 896
(5th Cir. 2000).
Declaratory Judgment Act has been understood to confer on
federal courts unique and substantial discretion in deciding
whether to declare the rights of litigants.” Wilton
v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277, 286, 115 S.Ct. 2137,
132 L.Ed.2d 214 (1995). “In the declaratory judgment
context, the normal principle that federal courts should
adjudicate claims within their jurisdiction ...