The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; MARVIN KATZ
Defendant, Khalil Ahmed, contends in his trial brief that there is no subject matter jurisdiction in this case. This is a wrongful death, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8301, and survival action, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8302, that arises out of a multi-vehicle accident (the "Accident") that occurred on August 3, 1992 in Pennsylvania. This Accident resulted in the death of Teresa Lynn Bastiand (the "Decedent"). The Decedent was traveling from her former home in New Jersey to her new home in Florida when the Accident occurred. Jurisdiction is premised on diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
assertion that the Decedent was a citizen of Florida is essential to diversity jurisdiction since the defendants
are citizens of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The issue is whether the fact that the Decedent had not completed moving to her new home precludes her from being a citizen of the state she considered her permanent home.
The case is presently on trial and I have heard the evidence pertaining to jurisdiction.
Lack of subject matter jurisdiction is a ground for dismissal and may be raised at any time by the parties or by the court sua sponte.
See Liakakos v. CIGNA Corp., 704 F. Supp. 583 (E.D. Pa. 1988). "In order to sustain jurisdiction based on diversity of the parties, there must exist an actual, substantial controversy between citizens of different states, all of whom on one side of the controversy are citizens of different states from all parties on the other side." Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Crown Cork and Seal Co., 905 F.2d 42, 45 (3d Cir. 1990). If one of the defendants is a citizen of the same state as any of the plaintiffs, complete diversity is lacking. See City of Harrisburg v. International Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 596 F. Supp. 954 (E.D. Pa. 1984), aff'd 770 F.2d 1067 (3d Cir. 1985). The legal representative of a decedent's estate is deemed to be a citizen of the same state as the decedent. 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (c)(2).
Mere residence in a state is not sufficient to establish citizenship for purposes of diversity. Sun Printing & Pub. Assn. v. Edwards, 194 U.S. 377, 48 L. Ed. 1027, 24 S. Ct. 696 (1904). The concept of "domicile" is controlling. Reynolds v. Adden, 136 U.S. 348, 349-351, 34 L. Ed. 360, 10 S. Ct. 843 (1890). The test for determining domicile centers on two factors: (1) the intent of the person in question to make a particular location their permanent home, and (2) physical presence. Jennings v. Fanti, 96 F. Supp. 264 (3d Cir. 1951); Wright, Law of Federal Courts, (4th Ed.1983). In other words, "[a] person's domicile is that place where he has his true fixed and permanent home and principal establishment, and to which he is has the intention of returning whenever he is absent therefrom." Michelson v. Exxon Research and Engineering Co., 578 F. Supp. 289 (W.D. Pa.), aff'd, 745 F.2d 47 (3d Cir. 1984) (citations omitted). Moreover, a person may be a domiciliary of only one state. Williamson v. Osenton, 232 U.S. 619, 625, 58 L. Ed. 758, 34 S. Ct. 442 (1914).
Where a person changes his state of residence, a presumption in favor of the original domicile arises. See e.g. Coggins v. Carpenter, 468 F. Supp. 270, 277 (E.D. Pa. 1979) (citing Hamlin v. Holland, 256 F. Supp. 25, 27 (E.D. Pa. 1966)).
However, no minimum residence time period exists before a person can establish a new domicile. Id; see also Restatement (Second), Conflict of Laws § 16.6 With these principles in mind the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
The defendants were citizens of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and plaintiff Jacque Ahmadi was a citizen of Virginia at the time the Complaint was filed.
At the time of the Accident, the Decedent was in the final phase of moving her personal property from New Jersey to Florida.
The court finds clear evidence that the Decedent intended Pt. St. Lucie, Florida to be her permanent home. Florida was the center of the Decedent's domestic, social and civil life. For example:
1. Decedent purchased a lot in Pt. St. Lucie in August 1991;
2. In November 1991, Decedent executed an agreement of sale, a mortgage, and arranged to have ...