United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before this Court is a Complaint filed by Plaintiff Toni
Broden, which insufficiently alleges the diversity of the
parties. (Doc. 1). Because the complaint fails to adequately
plead the existence of subject matter jurisdiction, the
action could be dismissed. But, this Court will provide
Plaintiff with an opportunity to show that diversity
jurisdiction is proper.
brings suit against Defendants Henry Stanley and Doris
Steinel (collectively “Defendants”) for allegedly
causing her injury through the negligent operation of a car.
While Plaintiff pleads some of the standard for jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. §1332, the diversity jurisdiction
statute, her complaint lacks a plain statement in support of
jurisdiction. The Complaint does allege that Plaintiff
resides in Pennsylvania, and Defendants
reside in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Plaintiff
also alleges that the amount in controversy, exclusive of
interest and cost exceeds $100, 000. Notably, the Complaint
contains no direct reference to 28 U.S.C. §1332.
28 U.S.C. § 1332, the diversity jurisdiction statute,
"the district courts shall have original jurisdiction of
all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs,
and is between citizens of different States . . . ."
When diversity of citizenship provides the grounds for
federal jurisdiction, "the pleadings should
affirmatively disclose that such diversity exists."
Osthaus v. Button, 70 F.2d 392, 392 (3d Cir. 1934).
Complete diversity must exist between the adverse parties in
the action; that is, the citizenship of each
plaintiff must be diverse from that of each defendant.
See Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437
U.S. 365, 373-74 (1978).
natural person is deemed to be a citizen of the state where
he is domiciled. Swiger v. Allegheny Energy, Inc.,
540 F.3d 179 182 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Gilbert v.
David, 235 U.S. 561, 569 (1915)). To be domiciled in a
state a person must reside there and intend to remain
indefinitely. Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298,
1300-01 (3d Cir. 1972). This means that domicile is not
necessarily synonymous with residence; one can reside in one
place and be domiciled in another. See Mississippi Band
of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1988).
In other words, a person's residence “in a
particular state is not, by itself, determinative of
citizenship for the purpose of federal court
jurisdiction.” Shaw v. Pottsville Hospital-Warne
Clinic, No. 88-4444, 1991 WL 117390, *5 (E.D. Pa. Jun.
24, 1991) (citing Gilbert, 235 U.S. 561, 569-70
(1914)). Rather, an individual will be considered a citizen
of a state where he resides and intends to remain
indefinitely. Further, a person may only have one domicile,
and thus may be a citizen of only one state for diversity
jurisdiction purposes. See Williamson v. Osenton,
232 U.S. 619, 625 (1914).
federal court has the obligation to address a question of
subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte.”
Meritcare Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 177
F.3d 214, 217 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing Employers Ins. of
Wausau v. Crown Cork & Steel Co., Inc., 905 F.2d 42,
45 (3d Cir. 1990)).
Plaintiff has made a fatal error: assuming citizenship
blindly follows residency. Simply put, such an assumption is
incorrect. While Plaintiff does allege the residency of each
party, she fails to take the additional, required step of
alleging citizenship. For this reason alone, the Complaint
could be dismissed.
failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provide an alternate basis to dismiss the Complaint. Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(1) requires a pleading contain a
“short and plain statement of the grounds for the
court's jurisdiction. . . .” Plaintiff provides no
such statement. In fact, Plaintiff omitted a Statement of
Jurisdiction from her Complaint and failed to even once refer
to a statute establishing jurisdiction. When Rule 8(a)(1) is
violated, dismissal is appropriate. See Schultz v.
Cally, 528 F.2d 470, 473-74 (3d Cir. 1975) (noting that
a failure to comply with Rule 8(a)(1) can lead to dismissal
because “it is hornbook law that the jurisdiction of
the federal court must appear in the plaintiff's
statement of his claim.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3)
(“If the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
Plaintiff has failed to properly plead a basis for subject
matter jurisdiction in the Complaint, the matter is subject
to dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3).
However, Plaintiff will be provided an opportunity to amend
the Complaint to show that diversity jurisdiction exists.
Plaintiff will be granted twenty-one (21) days in which to