Lawsuits as Strategy Follow-Up

In what will come as no surprise, a U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier dismissed the lawsuit Dean Cochrun filed over his circumcision. (Original post) This news article reported the dismissal, although I don’t believe the facts within the article are 100% accurate.

But U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier dismissed his case last week, finding that the federal court system has no jurisdiction over such a small claim. She also ordered him to pay a $350 filing fee.

Judge Schreier dismissed the case, finding that the court has no jurisdiction. As I read the decision, she dismissed it without regard to the sum, even though the sum Mr. Cochrun requested ($1,000) was less than the $75,000 threshold. Judge Schreier wrote:

… Because Cochrun has not alleged any facts to establish he and defendants are citizens of different states in support of diversity jurisdiction, his claim is subject to dismissal. See Barclay Square Properties v. Midwest Federal Sav. & Loan Ass’n of Minneapolis, 893 F.2d 968, 969 (8th Cir. 1990) (“When jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, the pleadings, to establish diversity, must set forth with specificity the citizenship of the parties.”). Thus, the court need not consider whether his complaint has met the amount in controversy requirement. Because this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, Cochrun has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

As always the caveat remains that I am not an attorney. It’s possible – probable, even – that I’ve misread or missed something. When Judge Schreier writes that “…Cochrun’s claims are dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)“, I assume it’s for (iii) rather than (i) or (ii). I could easily be wrong. But I read her decision as a dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction before considering any other questions involved. Mr. Cochrun filed a federal suit where all parties reside in one state. The court didn’t need to consider the relief sought. As I read it…

The point is that this was predictable and predicted. This is not a defeat. The challenge rests in how we promoted it and how much fiction opponents will read into the decision. For the former, anyone who jumped on this in our favor should probably reflect on the cost of blind support for anything that nominally might help us. For the latter, we need to confront it wherever we encounter it. Judge Schreier’s words are clear enough to prove that she did not rule on the merits of circumcision. The take-home is that this is neither evidence nor proof in favor of any conclusion regarding non-therapeutic male circumcision on a non-consenting minor. (Given the problems with Mr. Cochrun’s lawsuit and his plan to represent himself, I think we should be happy this was dismissed on lack of jurisdiction, as expected.)

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