How’s that for an argument for federal admiralty jurisdiction?Debtor bought a used pick-up truck for $28,000 at 23.9% interest and the note was assigned to AmeriCredit Financial Services, Inc. He made one payment and then sent AmeriCredit the note stamped with the words “Accepted for value and returned for value for settlement and closure” and directed AmeriCredit to bill the balance to the U.S. Treasury.
AmeriCredit repossessed the truck, sold it, and billed debtor for the deficiency of over $11,000. Debtor then sued AmeriCredit in federal court for $34 million plus $2.2 Billion in punitive damages. Here Judge Posner notes that “(N)eedless to say, he was proceeding pro se.” Debtor, now plaintiff, claimed jurisdiction on both diversity and admiralty grounds.Although plaintiff had “perfect diversity” among the parties he failed to satisfy the second prong of diversity jurisdiction which requires an amount in controversy of $75,000 because although he alleged over $2 billion in damages, Posner found it to be “a legal certainty that the plaintiff is entitled to recover nothing.”
His claim of admiralty jurisdiction also failed. Although the debtor didn’t explain this claim Judge Posner recognizes the debtor’s claims as arising from the Sovereign Citizens' movement and cites to one of its publications that explains that because “(W)e are all vessels; human bags carrying ‘sea water’” there is admiralty jurisdiction. The Judge disagrees with this analysis, deciding instead that because there is no claim involving maritime activities there is no admiralty jurisdiction.
Baba-Dainja El Vs AmeriCredit Financial Services, Inc. United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, No. 12-3310