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Wagenaar v. Robison

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 22, 2014

CLARENCE WAGENAAR and KMI ZEOLITE, INC. Plaintiffs,
v.
NATHAN ROBISON; DIANE RANEY; RAMM CORP GALTAR, LLC; ROBINSON ENGINEERING, INC.; BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT; and GALTAR LLC, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

ANDREW P. GORDON, District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 9, 2013, Clarence Wagenaar and KMI Zeolite, Inc. ("KMI Zeolite") filed their Complaint in this Court, seeking the remedies of accounting, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages for the tort of intentional interference with contractual relations.[1] Plaintiffs seek damages "in excess of $10, 000, " for the pleaded claim and also for each of the unpleaded claims of conversion and civil conspiracy.[2]

The allegations supporting the claim are difficult to decipher, but seem to relate to a mining operation in Amargosa, Nevada which resulted in a trespass upon land owned by the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM"). In relevant part, the allegations seem to concern actions taken by defendant Galtar LLC at the mine site which resulted in the trespass, and statements or allegations made by Galtar LLC and by other defendants to BLM during BLM's administrative adjudication of the trespass action.

Galtar LLC is the only remaining defendant, as the others have been dismissed by stipulation or because of Plaintiffs' failure to properly serve them with process.[3] In the Complaint, Plaintiffs do not allege the domicile of Wagenaar, and they allege that KMI Zeolite is a Nevada limited liability company.[4] However, the Nevada Secretary of State lists KMI Zeolite as a "foreign corporation" apparently out of Canada.[5] As to the remaining defendant, Plaintiffs allege that Galtar LLC is a Nevada limited liability company.[6]

Galtar LLC has moved for dismissal with prejudice on multiple grounds: (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1); (2) failure to state a claim under Rules 8(a)(1) and 12(b)(6); (3) failure to file the tort claim within the applicable statute of limitations; (4) failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (5) Nevada's anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation ("anti-SLAPP") statute;[7] and (5) the Noerr-Pennington doctrine.[8]

II. ANALYSIS

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction - Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)

Two grounds exist for subject matter jurisdiction in federal court: federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[9] In a case filed initially in federal court, the plaintiff has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that subject matter jurisdiction exists.[10]

The federal question statute provides that "the district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."[11] Plaintiffs' poorly-pleaded claim (or claims, if the allegations in the Prayer for Relief are interpreted as asserting conversion, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment) are torts arising under state law, and thus the Court does not have federal question jurisdiction.

Diversity jurisdiction requires that all plaintiffs be "citizens of different states" from all defendants (i.e., "complete diversity"), and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.[12] A corporation is a citizen of both its state of incorporation and the state where its principal place of business is located.[13] "[A]n LLC is a citizen of every state of which its owners/members are citizens."[14]

As to diversity jurisdiction, it is unclear whether the parties are completely diverse and whether the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Wagenaar's domicile is unknown, and he could very well be domiciled in Nevada. Although KMI Zeolite's place of incorporation is not Nevada, its principal place of business could be in Nevada. The citizenship of Galtar LLC's members is unknown, and thus it could be that Galtar LLC is a citizen of Nevada. Moreover, there is scant basis in the Complaint to conclude that the amount in controversy is likely to exceed $75, 000.

Ordinarily I would request more evidence as to diversity jurisdiction, but I need not take that step because dismissal is also warranted for ...


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