BRANCH et al v. WEBSTER et al
ORDER - The Court ORDERS Plaintiffs to conduct whatever inquiry they believe to be necessary to sufficiently make their jurisdictional allegations on personal knowledge, and to file an Amended Complaint by December 20, 2013. Defendants need not answer the Complaint, [dkt. 1], and each Defendant's time to answer will run from when it is served with Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 12/9/2013. (JKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
MARK J. BRANCH and BRANCH ENTERPRISES,
ANTHONY O. WEBSTER, REHAB, BOULDER
CHEVROLET-BUICK, INC. and BOB HAHN,
ORDER TO FILE AMENDED COMPLAINT
On November 22, 2013, Plaintiffs Mark J. Branch and Branch Enterprises, LLC (“Branch
Enterprises”) filed a Complaint against various defendants, alleging that this Court has diversity
jurisdiction over its action. [Dkt. 1 at 1, ¶ 2.] Mr. Branch and Branch Enterprises allege that
“the parties are completely diverse in citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000.00,” [id.], but there are several deficiencies with their jurisdictional allegations.
First, Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the citizenships of Defendants Anthony Webster
and Bob Hahn are inadequate. Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Webster and Mr. Hahn are domiciliaries
of Illinois based upon information and belief. [Id. at 2, ¶¶ 9, 12.] However, jurisdictional allegations must be made on personal knowledge. See America’s Best Inns, Inc. v. Best Inns of Abilene, L.P., 980 F.2d 1072, 1074 (7th Cir. 1992) (emphasizing that only a statement about jurisdiction “made on personal knowledge has any value” and a statement made “‘to the best of my
knowledge and belief’ is insufficient” to engage diversity jurisdiction “because it says nothing
Second, a corporation is deemed a citizen of any state where it is incorporated and the
state where it has its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). For the corporate par-
ties here – Branch Enterprises and Defendants Rehab and Boulder Chevrolet-Buick, Inc.
(“BCB”) – Plaintiffs have only alleged their states of incorporation and where they “do business.” [Dkt. 1 at 2, ¶¶ 6, 10, 11.] They must also allege each corporation’s principal place of
business, which is determined by applying the “nerve center” test. See Hertz Corp. v. Friend,
130 S. Ct. 1181, 1186 (2010).
Third, Plaintiffs allege that “the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00,” [dkt. 1 at 1,
¶ 2], but the amount in controversy must exceed $75,000 “exclusive of interest and costs,” 28
U.S.C. § 1332. The Court also cautions that although a plaintiff may aggregate the amounts
against defendants to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement if the defendants are jointly
liable, a plaintiff must satisfy the amount in controversy requirement against each individual defendant if the defendants are severally liable. LM Ins. Corp. v. Spaulding Enters., 533 F.3d 542,
548 (7th Cir. 2008).
For these reasons, the Court ORDERS Plaintiffs to conduct whatever inquiry they believe to be necessary to sufficiently make their jurisdictional allegations on personal knowledge,
and to file an Amended Complaint by December 20, 2013. Defendants need not answer the
Complaint, [dkt. 1], and each Defendant’s time to answer will run from when it is served with
Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint.
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Distribution via ECF only to all counsel of record
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