McGuire Law Offices, An Association of Professionals

Federal Court Win

Federal Court Win

A few months ago, Attorney Gino Megna and I handled a civil case in federal court in Texas.  We represented the defendants in a federal case in Texas. The civil lawsuit concerned an alleged breach of a non-compete agreement and breach of fiduciary duties.  The plaintiffs filed their complaint and amended it complaint on one or two occasions. On each occasion we had to respond.

We filed a motion to dismiss the complaint based upon lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On the face of the complaint and amended complaint, they failed to show that. Subject-matter jurisdiction is the requirement that a given court have power to hear the specific kind of claim that is brought to that court. While litigating parties may waive personal jurisdiction, they cannot waive subject-matter jurisdiction. In federal court, under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is considered a favored defense and may be raised at any point in the litigation process, even if the parties had previously argued that subject-matter jurisdiction existed. In fact, the court may dismiss a case sua sponte (on its own) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(b)(1).

The requirement that a court have subject-matter jurisdiction means that the court can only assume power over a claim which it is authorized to hear under the laws of the jurisdiction. For example, Congress limited the subject-matter jurisdiction of the United States Tax Court to cases related to taxation; thus, that court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over any other matter. Most state courts are courts of general jurisdiction, whereas federal courts have limited jurisdiction. That is, state courts are presumed to have power to hear virtually any claim arising under federal or state law, except those falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts.

In order to invoke subject matter jurisdiction, the complaint cannot have conclusory allegations regarding damages in excess of 75K but they need to show based upon allegations that they have a claim for in excess of 75K against each defendant. The judge found that didn’t happen and granted our motion to dismiss.

 

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