United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
LUCILLE JOYNER, Individually and as the Administratrix of the Estate of Janet Margaret Rains, her deceased daughter, et al., Plaintiffs,
BULOVA TECHNOLOGIES GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.
Richard Caputo United States District Judge
before the Court is a Complaint filed by Plaintiffs Lucille
Joyner, individually and as the Administratrix of the Estate
of Janet M. Rains, Robert Dressler, and Jason McCloe.
(See Doc. 1). Because the Complaint fails to
establish that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
this action, it will be dismissed unless Plaintiffs can show
that diversity jurisdiction is proper.
commenced this action on October 31, 2017. (See Doc.
1). Plaintiffs allege that this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332 because the amount in controversy exceeds the
jurisdictional limit and there is complete diversity between
Plaintiffs and Defendants. (See id. at ¶ 49).
Lucille Joyner, the duly appointed Administratrix of the
Estate of Janet M. Rains, “resides at 1006 Colonial
Road, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey 07417.” (Id.
at ¶ 1). At the time of her death, Janet M. Rains
“resided at 127 Broad Street, Pittston, Pennsylvania
18640.” (Id. at ¶ 2). Plaintiff Robert
Dressler “resides at 152½ South Main Street,
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18705.” (Id. at
¶ 3). Plaintiff Jason McCloe “resides at 109
Midland Court, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18702.”
(Id. at ¶ 4).
Twiss Transport, Inc. is a “Florida Profit Corporation
with a principal place of business located at 1501 Lake
Avenue SE, Largo, Florida 33771.” (Id. at
¶ 5). Defendant BT-Twiss Transport, LLC is a
“Florida Limited Liability company with a principal
place of business located at 1501 Lake Avenue, SE, Largo,
Florida 33771.” (Id. at ¶ 6). Defendant
Bulova Technologies Group, Inc. is a “Florida Profit
Corporation with a principal place of business located at
1501 Lake Avenue SE, Largo, Florida 33771.”
(Id. at ¶ 7). Defendant Disney Worldwide
Services, Inc. is a “Florida Profit Corporation with a
principal place of business located at 1375 East Buena Vista
Drive, 4th Floor North, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
32830.” (Id. at ¶ 8). Lastly, Defendant
Robert Edwin Haines “resides at 0372 126th
Avenue Lot 73, Largo, Florida 33773.” (Id. at
courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte. See Shaffer v. GTE N.,
Inc., 284 F.3d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Club
Comanche, Inc. v. Gov't of the V.I., 278 F.3d 250,
255 (3d Cir. 2002)). Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges that
the Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). Section 1332(a)(1) gives district courts original
jurisdiction to hear cases where the matter in controversy
exceeds the value of seventy-five thousand dollars ($75, 000)
and is between citizens of different states. In order for
diversity jurisdiction to exist, there must be complete
diversity, meaning that each defendant must be a citizen of a
different state from each plaintiff. Owen Equip. &
Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978). Of
course, “[t]he person asserting jurisdiction bears the
burden of showing that the case is properly before the court
at all stages of the litigation.” Packard v.
Provident Nat'l Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1045 (3d Cir.
1993). “It is . . . well established that when
jurisdiction depends upon diverse citizenship the absence of
sufficient averments or of facts in the record showing such
required diversity of citizenship is fatal and cannot be
overlooked by the court, even if the parties fail to call
attention to the defect, or consent that it may be
waived.” Thomas v. Bd. of Trs. of Ohio
State Univ., 195 U.S. 207, 211 (1904). Moreover,
“[w]hen the foundation of federal authority is, in a
particular instance, open to question, it is incumbent upon
the courts to resolve such doubts, one way or the other,
before proceeding to a disposition of the merits.”
Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan
Ass'n, 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir. 1977); see
also Fed R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
Citizenship of Plaintiffs.
Complaint fails to adequately allege the citizenship of
Plaintiffs. For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a natural
person is deemed to be a citizen of the state in which 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)). Additionally,
“where the plaintiff is the representative of the
estate of a decedent, the plaintiff is deemed to acquire the
citizenship of the decedent at the time of the decedent's
death.” Ramsey v. Devereux Found., No. 16-299,
2016 WL 3959075, at *3 (E.D. Pa. July 22, 2016) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2)). 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). A person may have only one domicile, and thus may be a
citizen of only one state for diversity jurisdiction
purposes. See Williamson v. Osenton, 232 U.S. 619,
extent the Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs (and Decedent)
“reside[ ]” in Pennsylvania, this is not
sufficient. Residence is not the same as domicile and does
not establish citizenship for diversity purposes. See
Krasnov, 465 F.2d at 1300 (“Where one lives is
prima facie evidence of domicile, but mere residency
in a state is insufficient for purposes of diversity.”)
. To properly plead diversity, the state of citizenship of
each Plaintiff must be alleged, not merely their state of
residence. As the Complaint does not contain these facts, the
Court cannot determine whether subject matter jurisdiction
Citizenship of Defendants.
Complaint also fails to properly allege the citizenship of