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Gilliam v. Glassett

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

February 6, 2019

WILLIAM H. GILLIAM, Plaintiff,
v.
ROY GLASSETT, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION SEEKING LEAVE TO FILE A SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

          SUSAN OKI MOLLWAY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION.

         Plaintiff William H. Gilliam has a dispute with the Association of Apartment Owners of the Kuhio Shores at Poipu (“AOAO”). In 2016, the AOAO filed a foreclosure action against the owner of Unit 209, Pacific Rim Property Service Corporation. See http://hoohiki.courts.hawaii.gov (input case ID “5CC161000063”). While it is not clear whether Gilliam has an ownership interest in Pacific Rim Property Service Corporation, according to the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs of the State of Hawaii, Business Registration Division, Gilliam is the President and a Director of it. See https://hbe.ehawaii.gov/documents/business.html?fileNumber=241082 D1&view=officers. The company uses the same address as Gilliam. https://hbe.ehawaii.gov/documents/business.html?fileNumber=241082 D1&view=info.

         Gilliam complains that the AOAO has been applying monthly payments to fines and attorneys' fees, rather than to maintenance fees. See Proposed Second Amended Complaint ¶ 11. Gilliam now sues Defendant Roy Glassett, who simply vacationed at a unit in the Kuhio Shores at Poipu. Essentially, Gilliam seeks damages from Glassett for the AOAO's actions. Gilliam's claims against Glassett appear to be asserted not in good faith, but rather to harass him or to gain leverage against the AOAO with respect to a state-court foreclosure action in which Glassett is not a party.

         As described in the First Amended Complaint in this action, in March 2013, Glassett stayed in Unit 109 of the Kuhio Shores at Poipu while vacationing on Kauai. Glassett allegedly disturbed Gilliam, who is related to a company that owned Unit 209, by playing music a few minutes after “quiet time” began. Gilliam called security, which determined that the music's volume was acceptable. The following day, Gilliam supposedly threw water on Glassett when Glassett was sitting outside of his unit listening to music. On or about March 13, 2013, Glassett sent an email to management of the Kuhio Shores at Poipu. This email purported to describe Glassett's interaction with Gilliam.

         While the proposed Second Amended Complaint asserts a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (“RICO”) claim, as well as state law claims of tortious interference and defamation, the court denies Gilliam's motion for leave to file the proposed Second Amended Complaint because it would be futile to allow him to proceed. The Second Amended Complaint does not assert any claim over which this court would have subject matter jurisdiction.

         II. ANALYSIS.

         Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that leave to amend a complaint should be freely given “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). In determining whether to allow amendment of a complaint, courts consider factors such as: whether the amendment will cause undue delay; whether the movant has demonstrated bad faith or a dilatory motive; whether the amendment will unduly prejudice the opposing party; whether amendment is futile; and whether the movant has repeatedly failed to cure deficiencies. See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). While this court freely gives leave to amend a complaint “when justice so requires, ” this court may deny a motion to amend a complaint when a proposed complaint would be futile. See Carrico v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 656 F.3d 1002, 1008 (9th Cir. 2011); Gordon v. City of Oakland, 627 F.3d 1092, 1094 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Federal district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only the power authorized by the Constitution or by statute. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005). Gilliam, the party invoking this court's jurisdiction, has the burden of proving the actual existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Thompson v. McCombe, 99 F.3d 352, 353 (9th Cir. 1996) (“A party invoking the federal court's jurisdiction has the burden of proving the actual existence of subject matter jurisdiction.”). Gilliam's proposed Second Amended Complaint asserts diversity and federal question jurisdiction. Neither supplies this court with subject matter jurisdiction, making the proposed Second Amended Complaint futile, as it would be subject to dismissal.

         A. THE PROPOSED SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT DOES NOT SATISFY THE JURISDICTIONAL PREREQUISITE FOR DIVERSITY JURISDICTION.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), this court has original jurisdiction with respect to civil actions when the parties are diverse and the matter in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. When a complaint is originally filed in federal court, “the amount in controversy is determined from the face of the pleadings.” Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka ex rel. Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Generally, the amount in controversy alleged in a complaint controls so long as it is made in good faith. However, a court may dismiss a complaint for lack of diversity jurisdiction when it appears “to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less than the jurisdictional amount.” Id. That is, “a federal court has subject matter jurisdiction unless upon the face of the complaint, it is obvious that the suit cannot involve the necessary amount.” Id. (quotation marks and citation omitted). Accord Naffe v. Frey, 789 F.3d 1030, 1040 (9th Cir. 2015) (“[T]he sum claimed by the plaintiff controls if the claim is apparently made in good faith. It must appear to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less than the jurisdictional amount to justify dismissal.” (quotation marks and citation omitted)).

         While the proposed Second Amended Complaint alleges that the necessary amount in controversy is in issue, this court rules that “it is obvious that the suit cannot involve the necessary amount.” Geographic Expeditions, 599 F.3d at 1106. To a legal certainty, Gilliam has not pled a claim against Gilliam involving more than $75, 000 in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs.

         Gilliam alleges that Glassett played music too loudly while staying at a vacation unit one floor below the unit Gilliam was in. See Proposed Second Amended Complaint ¶ 12, ECF No. 22-1, PageID # 166. According to an email dated March 14, 2013, written by Glassett and attached to the proposed Second Amended Complaint, Glassett and someone named Marjie were

sitting on the patio listening to music and visiting. At approximately 9:15pm [on March 10, 2013, ] the tenant from #209 [Gilliam] came around the corner in the dark and began yelling and screaming that our music was too loud and that quiet hours began at 9pm. He was very angry, abusive and came upon us very ...

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