Casa Design, Inc. v. Alacran Contracting, LLC
Order for Plaintif to file no later than 5/30/17 an amended complaint, as set out. Plaintiff is also ordered to file a disclosure statement by 5/30/17. ( Miscellaneous deadline set for 5/30/2017.). Signed by Magistrate Judge Katherine P. Nelson on 5/15/2017. (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CASA DESIGN, INC.,
ALACRAN CONTRACTING, LLC,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 17-00216-KD-N
This action is before the Court sua sponte on review of its subject matter
jurisdiction.1 Plaintiff Casa Design, Inc. (“the Plaintiff”) initiated this action by
filing a complaint (Doc. 1) with the Court, alleging diversity of citizenship under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a) as the sole basis for jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1) (“A
pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of
the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction…”).
When a plaintiff files suit in federal court, [the plaintiff] must allege
facts that, if true, show federal subject matter jurisdiction over [the]
case exists. Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994).
Those allegations, when federal jurisdiction is invoked based upon
diversity, must include the citizenship of each party, so that the court is
satisfied that no plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any
“It is . . . axiomatic that the inferior federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
They are ‘empowered to hear only those cases within the judicial power of the United
States as defined by Article III of the Constitution,’ and which have been entrusted
to them by a jurisdictional grant authorized by Congress.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am.
Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d
1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994)). Accordingly, “it is well settled that a federal court is
obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be
lacking.” Id. at 410. “[A] court should inquire into whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in the proceedings.” Id. See also See
Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, (2006) (“[C]ourts, including this Court,
have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party.”).
defendant. Triggs v. John Crump Toyota, Inc., 154 F.3d 1284, 1287
(11th Cir. 1998) (“Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity;
every plaintiff must be diverse from every defendant.”). Without such
allegations, district courts are constitutionally obligated to dismiss the
action altogether if the plaintiff does not cure the deficiency. Stanley
v. C.I.A., 639 F.2d 1146, 1159 (5th Cir. Unit B Mar. 1981); see also
DiMaio v. Democratic Nat'l Comm., 520 F.3d 1299, 1303 (11th Cir.
2008) (“Where dismissal can be based on lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, the court should dismiss on
only the jurisdictional grounds.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
That is, if a complaint’s factual allegations do not assure the
court it has subject matter jurisdiction, then the court is
without power to do anything in the case. See Goodman ex rel.
Goodman v. Sipos, 259 F.3d 1327, 1331, n.6 (11th Cir. 2001) (“ ‘[A
district] court must dismiss a case without ever reaching the merits if it
concludes that it has no jurisdiction.’ ” (quoting Capitol Leasing Co. v.
FDIC, 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993))); see also Belleri v. United
States, 712 F.3d 543, 547 (11th Cir. 2013) (“We may not consider the
merits of [a] complaint unless and until we are assured of our subject
Travaglio v. Am. Exp. Co., 735 F.3d 1266, 1268 (11th Cir. 2013) (emphasis added)
(footnote omitted). See also, e.g., Ray v. Bird & Son & Asset Realization Co., Inc.,
519 F.2d 1081, 1082 (5th Cir. 1975) (“The burden of pleading diversity of citizenship
is upon the party invoking federal jurisdiction . . .” (citing Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d
1396 (5th Cir. 1974)).2
Upon review of the complaint (Doc. 1), the undersigned finds
that the Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts showing the citizenship of either
party for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.3
“In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir.1981) (en banc), [the
Eleventh Circuit] adopted as binding precedent all decisions of the former Fifth
Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981.”
Travaglio, 735 F.3d at 1268 n.1.
For purposes of the present sua sponte review, the undersigned finds that the
First, it is unclear whether the Plaintiff is a corporation or a limited liability
company (LLC). The Plaintiff identifies itself with the suffix “Inc.” in the style of
the complaint and several times in the body of the complaint, suggesting that it is a
corporation. However, in the section labeled “The Parties,” the Plaintiff identifies
itself with the suffix “LLC” and alleges that it is a “limited liability company.”
Doc. 1 at 1, ¶ 1).
Regardless, the Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts
demonstrating its citizenship either way, merely alleging that it is an “Alabama”
entity. If the Plaintiff is a corporation, it must specifically allege “every State and
foreign state by which it has been incorporated and…the State or foreign state
where it has its principal place of business” in order to sufficiently demonstrate its
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1).
On the other hand, the rule for diversity jurisdiction is “that the citizenship of
an artificial, unincorporated entity generally depends on the citizenship of all the
members composing the organization.”
Rolling Greens, MHP, L.P. v. Comcast SCH
Holdings, L.L.C., 374 F.3d 1020, 1021 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (citing Carden v.
Arkoma Assocs., 494 U.S. 185, 195-96 (1990)). See also Americold Realty Trust v.
Conagra Foods, Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1012, 1016 (2016) (“So long as … an entity is
unincorporated, we apply our ‘oft-repeated rule’ that it possesses the citizenship of
all its members.” (reaffirming Carden)).
As such, for purposes of diversity
jurisdiction, “a limited liability company is a citizen of any state of which a member
of the company is a citizen.”
Rolling Greens, 374 F.3d at 1022. Accord Mallory &
Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts showing § 1332(a)’s requisite amount in
Evans Contractors & Eng’rs, LLC v. Tuskegee Univ., 663 F.3d 1304, 1305 (11th Cir.
2011) (per curiam). Thus, “[t]o sufficiently allege the citizenship of [an LLC], a
party must list the citizenships of all the members of the limited liability
Rolling Greens, 374 F.3d at 1022. See also S.D. Ala. CivLR 8 (“A
pleading or notice of removal asserting jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship
must identify the citizenship of each party to the litigation … If any party is an
unincorporated association, limited liability company, or partnership, the pleading
or notice must identify the citizenship of all members.”).4
Thus, if the Plaintiff is
indeed an LLC, it must allege the citizenships of each of its members. The Plaintiff
must also do the same for Defendant Alacran Contracting, LLC, which is clearly
alleged to be an LLC. (See Doc. 1 at 1, ¶ 2).5
“Defective allegations of jurisdiction may be amended, upon terms, in the trial
or appellate courts.”
28 U.S.C. § 1653. “[L]eave to amend should be freely granted
when necessary to cure a failure to allege jurisdiction properly.”
Georgiana Cmty. Hosp., Inc., 724 F.2d 901, 903 n.1 (11th Cir. 1984).
consideration, the Plaintiff is ORDERED to file, no later than Tuesday, May 30,
This “can require tracing through several layers.” BouMatic, LLC v. Idento
Operations, BV, 759 F.3d 790, 791 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Cosgrove v. Bartolotta, 150
F.3d 729 (7th Cir. 1998) (citizenship of an LLC depends on citizenship of its
members, traced through as many levels as necessary to reach corporations or
See also Azzo v. Jetro Rest. Depot, LLC, No.
3:11-CV-324-J-34JRK, 2011 WL 1357557, at *2 n.2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 11, 2011) (in
pleading the citizenships of the members, “each member's citizenship must [also ]be
properly alleged, be it an individual, corporation, LLC, or other entity”).
The Plaintiff has attempted to treat Alacran as a corporation for purposes of
diversity, alleging its state of formation and the state where it has its principal place
2017, an amended complaint that sufficiently alleges the citizenship of both artificial
entity parties for purpose of diversity jurisdiction under § 1332(a), or that alleges
some alternative basis for subject matter jurisdiction.
In filing the amended
complaint, the Plaintiff must abide by the following directives:
The Plaintiff shall correct the style to reflect that the amended complaint is
being filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Alabama, Southern Division, rather than for “the Northern District of
Alabama, Western Division.”
The amended complaint shall reproduce the entire original complaint as
amended, see S.D. Ala. CivLR 15(a) (“Any amendment to a pleading … must
reproduce the entire pleading as amended and may not incorporate any prior
pleading by reference.”), and will become the operative complaint in this
The Plaintiff must file the amended complaint as a freestanding pleading and
not as an exhibit attached to a notice, motion, etc.
Any filing made in contravention of these directives will be deemed
nonresponsive to this Order and will be summarily ordered stricken. Moreover, the
“As a general matter, ‘[a]n amended pleading supersedes the former pleading; the
original pleading is abandoned by the amendment, and is no longer a part of the
pleader's averments against his adversary.’ ” Pintando v. Miami-Dade Hous.
Agency, 501 F.3d 1241, 1243 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (quoting Dresdner Bank
AG, Dresdner Bank AG in Hamburg v. M/V OLYMPIA VOYAGER, 463 F.3d 1210,
1215 (11th Cir. 2006) (citation and quotation omitted)). See also, e.g., Fritz v.
Standard Sec. Life Ins. Co. of New York, 676 F.2d 1356, 1358 (11th Cir. 1982)
(“Under the Federal Rules, an amended complaint supersedes the original
failure to file an amended complaint as ordered will result in entry of a
recommendation that this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).
The Plaintiff is also ORDERED to file a disclosure statement in accordance
with S.D. Ala. CivLR 7.1 (and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1, if it is a
"nongovernmental corporate party”) later than Tuesday, May 30, 2017.7
DONE and ORDERED this the 15th day of May 2017.
/s/ Katherine P. Nelson
KATHERINE P. NELSON
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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