Magness Oil Company et al v. Piedmont Fields, LLC et al
ORDER directing Defendants to file an Affidavit or other document on record with this Court correctly asserting and definitively establishing the citizenship of Defendant Piedmont at the time of removal. Defendants are directed to file such documentation or or before Monday, February 27, 2012. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on February 15, 2012. (sh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
MAGNESS OIL COMPANY; BENNY W.
MAGNESS; JANIE A. MAGNESS; and
Case No. 3:11-CV-03104
PIEDMONT FIELDS, LLC; THE GOODWIN
LAW FIRM, PLLC; DANIEL R. GOODWIN;
USA GLOBAL HOLDINGS BUSINESS TRUST;
and SIDNEY A. TARRANT
The Court, having reviewed the filings in this case, now raises sua sponte, the issue of
whether this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the instant matter.1 Subject matter
jurisdiction and the issue of this Court’s authority to hear this action may be raised at any time. Fed.
R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
This case was removed by Defendants Daniel R. Goodwin and The Goodwin Law Firm,
PPLC (collectively “the Goodwin Defendants”) on November 1, 2011. At the time of the removal,
the removing defendants were the only defendants who had been served.2 Pertinent to the Court’s
instant inquiry, the Goodwin Defendants allege in their Notice of Removal that Defendant Piedmont
Fields, LLC (“Piedmont”) is a Limited Liability Company whose principal place of business is in
The Court recognizes that Plaintiffs have raised the issue of jurisdiction through a
Motion to Remand (Doc. 5), which is currently pending before this Court. The issue raised by
the Court herein, however, has not been addressed by the parties. The Court raises this issue
before addressing the Motion to Remand as the issue raised herein is more fundamental to the
existence of federal jurisdiction than those issues raised by Plaintiffs through their Motion.
There, apparently, remains some question as to whether Defendant Sidney Tarrant had
been properly served prior to removal, but Plaintiffs seem to concede in subsequent filings that
Defendant Tarrant has yet to be served.
Macon, Georgia. (Doc. 1, para. 15). Plaintiffs likewise assert in their state court Complaint that
Piedmont is an LLC with its principal place of business in Macon, Georgia. (Doc. 2, para. 5).
Defendant Piedmont was recently served and filed its Answer on February 13, 2012, admitting
Plaintiffs’ assertion as to its status as an LLC with its principal place of business in Georgia. (Doc.
16, para. 1).
Regardless of the parties’ agreement regarding this assertion, the parties cannot waive lack
of subject matter jurisdiction by consent. Rather, the Court has an affirmative duty to ensure that
any claims before it are within its subject matter jurisdiction. Crawford v. United States, 796 F.2d
924, 928 (7th Cir. 1986); see also Strange v. Arkansas-Oklahoma Gas Corp., 534 F. Supp. 138, 139
(W.D. Ark. 1981) (noting court’s “obligation and duty to carefully consider the pleadings...to
determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists”).
The Goodwin Defendants failed to
adequately allege Piedmont’s citizenship in their Notice of Removal. “An LLC’s citizenship, for
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, is the citizenship of each of its members.” OnePoint Solutions,
LLC v. Borchert, 486 F.3d 342, 346 (8th Cir. 2007). The Goodwin Defendants have not made any
assertion regarding the citizenship of Piedmont’s members. The Court cannot discern, from the
Notice of Removal or any other pleadings in this case, the actual citizenship of Defendant Piedmont
for diversity purposes. It is certainly not outside the realm of possibility that any of Piedmont’s
members may be citizens of Arkansas, in which case diversity in this action would be defeated and
this Court would not have jurisdiction.
As the party invoking the Court’s jurisdiction, it is Defendants’ burden to plead the existence
of diversity jurisdiction. Walker v. Norwest Corp., 108 F.3d 158, 161 (8th Cir. 1997). Parties seeking
to invoke federal jurisdiction have long assumed the burden of investigating the citizenship of the
parties involved. Id. Defendants’ burden of pleading requires them to plead “with specificity the
citizenship of the parties.” Barclay Square Props. v. Midwest Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n of
Minneapolis, 893 F.2d 968, 969 (8th Cir. 1990). The Court therefore directs Defendants to file an
Affidavit or other document on record with this Court correctly asserting and definitively
establishing the citizenship of Defendant Piedmont at the time of removal. Defendants are directed
to file such documentation on or before Monday, February 27, 2012.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 15th day of February, 2012.
/s/P. K. Holmes, III
P.K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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