First Financial Education Centers LLC v. The Ziegler Group, LLC et al
ORDERED: Plaintiff shall have up to and including March 11, 2021, to provide the Court with sufficient information so that it can determine whether it has diversity jurisdiction over this action. See Order for details. Signed by Judge Marcia Morales Howard on 2/18/2021. (MHM)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FIRST FINANCIAL EDUCATION
Case No. 3:21-cv-157-MMH-MCR
THE ZIEGLER GROUP, LLC, et al.,
THIS CAUSE is before the Court sua sponte. Federal courts are courts
of limited jurisdiction and therefore have an obligation to inquire into their
subject matter jurisdiction. See Kirkland v. Midland Mortgage Co., 243 F.3d
1277, 1279-1280 (11th Cir. 2001); see also Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d
1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994). This obligation exists regardless of whether the
parties have challenged the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Univ.
of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[I]t is well
settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte whenever it may be lacking”). “In a given case, a federal district
court must have at least one of three types of subject matter jurisdiction: (1)
jurisdiction under a specific statutory grant; (2) federal question jurisdiction
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pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or (3) diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a).” Baltin v. Alaron Trading, Corp., 128 F.3d 1466, 1469 (11th Cir.
On February 16, 2021, Plaintiff filed a Complaint for Damages and
Injunctive Relief (Doc. 1) asserting that the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because “there is
complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in
controversy exceeds $75,000.” See Complaint ¶ 11. In support, Plaintiff alleges
that it is a “Florida limited liability company with its principal place of business
in Jacksonville, Florida.” Id. ¶ 2. Likewise, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant
The Ziegler Group, LLC is an Arizona limited liability company (LLC) with its
principal place of business in Colorado, id. ¶ 3, and that WealthyIQ, LLC is a
Wyoming LLC with its principal place of business in Wyoming, id. ¶ 5. As to
the individual Defendants, Plaintiff alleges that Jeffrey Ziegler and Tina Ziegler
are citizens of Colorado. Id. ¶ 4. Upon review of these allegations, the Court is
unable to determine whether it has diversity jurisdiction over this action
because Plaintiff has inadequately pled the citizenship of the limited liability
companies named in this case.1
The failure to adequately allege diversity jurisdiction in this case is certainly not unique. See
Wilkins v. Stapleton, No. 6:17-cv-1342-Orl-37GJK, 2017 WL 11219132, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Aug.
1, 2017) (“Diversity jurisdiction appears to create the biggest pleading challenge for the Bar.”).
But, as aptly stated in Wilkins, the all-to-common “failure to demonstrate even a passing
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For the purposes of establishing diversity jurisdiction, “a limited liability
company is a citizen of any state of which a member of the company is a citizen.”
Rolling Greens MHP, L.P. v. Comcast SCH Holdings L.L.C., 374 F.3d 1020, 1022
(11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). As such, to sufficiently allege the citizenship of
an LLC, a party must list the citizenship of each of the LLC’s members. See id.
at 1021-22. Thus, to establish the citizenship of the LLC parties to this case,
Plaintiff must identify the citizenship of each member of First Financial
Education Centers LLC, The Ziegler Group, LLC, and WealthyIQ, LLC, rather
than alleging the states in which these companies were formed and their
principal places of business. In this regard, Plaintiff is cautioned that each and
every member of these three LLCs must be identified and also have their
individual citizenship properly alleged, whether that member be an individual,
corporation, LLC, or other entity. Without this additional information, the
familiarity with the jurisdictional requirements of the federal courts results in a waste of
judicial resources that cannot continue.” Id. Indeed,
[t]he U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida is one of the busiest
district courts in the country and its limited resources are precious. Time spent
screening cases for jurisdictional defects, issuing orders directing repair of
deficiencies, then rescreening the amended filings and responses to show cause
orders is time that could and should be devoted to the substantive work of the
Id. at *1 n.4. As such, before filing any future pleadings in federal court, counsel is strongly
encouraged to review the applicable authority on federal subject matter jurisdiction. See id.
at *1-2 (bulleting several “hints” on how to allege federal diversity jurisdiction properly).
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allegations presently before the Court are insufficient to invoke the Court’s
subject matter jurisdiction over this action.2 Accordingly, it is
Plaintiff shall have up to and including March 11, 2021, to provide the
Court with sufficient information so that it can determine whether it has
diversity jurisdiction over this action.
DONE AND ORDERED at Jacksonville, Florida on February 18, 2021.
Carefully ascertaining the citizenship of the parties and whether the Court has subject
matter jurisdiction over this action is more than just an academic exercise, as is evident from
two Eleventh Circuit cases decided in 2017. See Thermoset Corp. v. Bldg. Materials Corp of
Am., 849 F.3d 1313, 1316-1317 (11th Cir. Mar. 2, 2017) (vacating summary judgment order
after three years of litigation where court determined on appeal that the pleadings below had
not sufficiently alleged the citizenship of a defendant limited liability company, and upon
further inquiry, found that the defendant limited liability company had a non-diverse
member); see also Purchasing Power, LLC v. Bluestem Brands, Inc., 851 F.3d 1218, 1222, 1228
(11th Cir. Mar. 20, 2017) (discussing whether sanctions were warranted in a case where
summary judgment was reversed on appeal after the appellate court discovered that the
pleadings did not sufficiently allege the citizenship of the plaintiff LLC, leading to the
realization that there was no diversity jurisdiction) (“While the requirements of diversity
jurisdiction in this scenario are complicated, they are the law. No party in this case acted with
bad intentions, but the result was a colossal waste of time and effort. We trust that the damage
done to the parties' credibility, finances, and time is enough of a sanction to curb their conduct
and to serve as a warning to future diversity jurisdiction litigants. In the end, when the parties
do not do their part, the burden falls on the courts to make sure parties satisfy the
requirements of diversity jurisdiction. We must be vigilant in forcing parties to meet the
unfortunate demands of diversity jurisdiction in the 21st century.”).
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Counsel of Record
Pro Se Parties
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