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MOESSER v. CRUCIBLE STEEL CO. OF AMERICA

May 27, 1959

Paul B. MOESSER, Plaintiff,
v.
CRUCIBLE STEEL COMPANY OF AMERICA, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCILVAINE

In this case the plaintiff, Paul B. Moesser, a citizen of Pennsylvania, has filed a complaint against the defendant, Crucible Steel Company of America, a New Jersey corporation, seeking damages from the defendant alleging that he was injured as a proximate result of defendant's negligence in permitting him to work in an area which exposed him to dangerous fumes.

The defendant filed its answer in which it denied that it was negligent and raised the defense that this Court lacks jurisdiction. Subsequently, it filed what it called a motion for summary judgment, raising as a defense that its principal place of business is in Pennsylvania, and that, therefore, there was a lack of diversity between the parties as required by Section 1332(c) of Title 28 United States Code. We feel that this motion is more in the nature of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction rather than a motion for summary judgment, and this Court will so consider it.

 Plaintiff, of course, seeks to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court because of diversity of citizenship, and the amount in controversy. In its complaint it alleges that the amount in controversy is in excess of $ 10,000, and alleges the diverse citizenship of the parties. However, the defendant argues that its principal place of business is Pennsylvania and, therefore, there is no diversity.

 The relevant portion of the Act of Congress provides as follows:

 'For the purposes of this section and section 1441 of this title, a corporation shall be deemed a citizen of any State by which it has been incorporated and of the State where it has its principal place of business.' 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c).

 It seems clear that the intent of Congress from the above quoted section of the code was to limit the diversity jurisdiction of the district court, and that where a corporation was incorporated in one state and had its principal place of business in another state, it would be deemed a citizen of both states for the purposes of determining whether diversity of citizenship existed. U.S.Code Cong. & Adm.News 1958, p. 3102.

 The question that we have to determine here is where does this corporation have its principal place of business. It appears to this Court that Congress intended that the Court in making this determination be governed by the criteria set up under the Bankruptcy Act ( § 11 U.S.C.A. 11). It appears that the Court should be guided in making this determination by the determinations and decisions the courts have made under the Bankruptcy Act in determining where the principal place of business is.

 The question as to the principal place of business of a corporation is always one of fact depending upon the circumstances of the particular case. In re American & British Mfg. Corp., D.C.Conn.1924, 300 F. 839.

 The courts have pointed out that it is not always easy to lay down any general rule for determining which one of several places at which a corporation does business is its principal place of business. It is to be gathered from a general survey of the corporation's activities. The decision depends upon a comparison of the activities at each place in respect to their character, importance, and amount. In re Worcester Footwear Co., D.C.Mass.1918, 251 F. 760, 762. To make this determination, which is essentially a factual one, we felt that answers to the following questions would be most helpful. Therefore, the Court propounded the following questions to the defendant which were pertinent to this inquiry:

 '(1) What is the gross value of the products manufactured in Pennsylvania as distinguished from products manufactured in other states?

 '(2) How many employees does the defendant have in Pennsylvania as compared with its total employees?

 '(3) What is the character of the corporation?

 '(4) What are its purposes?

 '(5) What kind of business does it ...


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