United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER
ADELMAN District Judge.
16, 2016, Danny Hughes, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint
in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against Paula Brunner and
James Miller, two attorneys who represented him in bankruptcy
proceedings in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The
complaint purports to state claims for breach of contract and
legal malpractice against Brunner and Miller. The caption of
this complaint also identifies the U.S. Trustee's Office
as a defendant. However, the body of the complaint contains
no allegations against the Trustee's Office, and it is
impossible to discern the nature of the claim the plaintiff
believes he has against the Trustee's Office.
same day that he filed the complaint, the plaintiff also
filed a motion for a temporary injunction. The motion
requests an injunction “to stop the signing of the deed
for the Germantown land” at a certain address.
See ECF No. 1-3. The motion does not identify the
party sought to be enjoined, but presumably that party would
be the U.S. Trustee assigned to the plaintiff's
bankruptcy case in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In that
case, a bankruptcy judge granted the Trustee's motion to
sell the Germantown land that is the subject of the
plaintiff's state-court motion. See E.D. Wis.
Bankr. Case No. 15-23793, ECF No. 270. According to the
records of the bankruptcy court, the property was sold on
June 1, 2016. See ECF No. 339 in the Bankruptcy
Case. Thus, the plaintiff's motion would appear to be
moot, as it is too late to stop the sale of the property or
the transfer of title.
15, 2016, the Trustee's Office filed a notice of removal
of the state-court case to this court. The case was properly
removed under the federal-officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1442. On June 29, 2016, the Trustee's Office filed
a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's claims against it.
The Trustee's Office asserted several bases for
dismissing the claims against it. One asserted basis is that,
by virtue of the doctrine of “derivative jurisdiction,
” this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over any
claim against the Trustee's Office. Under this doctrine,
even when a case is properly removed to federal court under
§ 1442, the district court will lack jurisdiction to
hear the case if the state court from which the case was
removed lacked jurisdiction. See, e.g., Rodas v.
Seidlin, 656 F.3d 610, 615 (7th Cir. 2011).
Trustee's Office argues that the Milwaukee County Circuit
Court had no jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff's claim
against it because the plaintiff can point to no waiver of
the United States's sovereign immunity that applies to
the plaintiff's claim and that would allow the suit to
proceed in a state court. The plaintiff has not meaningfully
responded to this argument. Moreover, the plaintiff has not
alleged any cognizable claim against the Trustee's Office
at all, much less a claim that would fall within a waiver of
sovereign immunity that would authorize a suit against the
Trustee's Office in state court. Thus, I conclude that
the Wisconsin state court did not have jurisdiction to
entertain the plaintiff's claim against the Trustee's
Office. See United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584,
586-87 (1941) (“The United States, as sovereign, is
immune from suit save as it consents to be sued . . . and the
terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that
court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit.”). It
follows that, under the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction,
this court also lacks jurisdiction to entertain the claim.
Minnesota v. United States, 305 U.S. 382, 388-89
(1939). I will therefore dismiss the U.S. Trustee's
Office from this case for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. I will also deny the motion for a temporary
injunction, which is directed at the Trustee's Office.
remainder of this case comprises the plaintiff's claims
for breach of contract and legal malpractice against his
bankruptcy attorneys, Brunner and Miller. Those attorneys
have moved to dismiss the claims against them for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). However, because these are
state-law claims and the parties are not completely diverse
(both the plaintiff and defendant Miller are from Wisconsin),
I do not have an independent basis for exercising subject
matter jurisdiction over those claims. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 & 1332. Moreover, because I did not
have original jurisdiction over the claim against the
Trustee's Office, I cannot exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the claims against Brunner and Miller. 28
U.S.C. § 1367(a). Therefore, I cannot address Brunner
and Miller's motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. Instead, I must remand the case to the state court for
further proceedings with respect to Miller and Brunner.
Again, however, the Trustee's Office is dismissed from
this case, and therefore any proceedings that occur in state
court will not involve the Trustee's Office.
IT IS ORDERED that the U.S. Trustee's Office's motion
to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is
GRANTED. The plaintiff's claim against the Trustee's
Office is dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject
FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff's motion for a
temporary injunction is DENIED.
FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiff's claims against
Brunner and Miller are REMANDED to ...