The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Steffens v. Kaminsky, decided earlier this month by Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer, starts so promising:
I have reviewed the [YouTube] video … [called] "Shama[na]trix Missy Galore live on Sac&Co[.]" … The video shows an approximately five-minute clip of what appears to be a television program featuring a conversation between a television host and someone named Missy Galore. During the conversation Missy Galore tells the television host about her feelings and about a time in her life when she had a "situation of domestic violence" where "I was living with my fiancé, and he had a psychotic break" and "almost killed me" and "I barely escaped with my life." The video does not identify Steffens by name or the name of the fiancé. Missy Galore goes on in the video to talk about how she has since gotten in "touch with my inner child" and how it has "reminded me that life is love and that we all deserve love." Missy Galore then discusses how she has developed a self-help "inner child empowerment technique" known as "Fluff the Goodness" involving musical performances, workshops, and interactive art installations that she shares with others.
But the conclusion:
Nor does it appear that the complaint alleges sufficient facts to give rise to diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Although the complaint alleges that Steffens is a citizen of a different State than Kaminsky, it alleges damages of only $28,000—well below the $75,000 threshold required for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.
In short, even assuming that the complaint alleges a valid claim for defamation, it does not appear that there is any basis for federal jurisdiction over this action. In the ordinary course, however, a court should not dismiss a complaint sua sponte without affording the plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to respond to the concerns that would warrant dismissal. The purpose of this ruling is to state my concerns so that Steffens may file a response….