Hess Corporation v. Burstnet Technologies, LLC
MEMORANDUM re 1 Complaint filed by Hess Corporation Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 5/22/12. (jam, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:12-cv-939
BURSTNET TECHNOLOGIES, LLC,
Presently before the Court is a Complaint filed by Plaintiff Hess Corporation. (Doc. 1.)
Because the Complaint fails to establish that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
the action, it will be dismissed unless Plaintiff can show that diversity jurisdiction is proper.
Plaintiff brings this action alleging diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff Hess Corporation is alleged to be “a Delaware corporation with its principal
place of business located at 1185 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y.” (Id. ¶¶ 1, 3.)
Defendant Burstnet Technologies, LLC is averred to be “a limited liability company with its
principal place of business located at 442 Prescott Avenue, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18510.”
(Id. ¶ 2.) Later in the Complaint, Burstnet is alleged to be a “Pennsylvania corporation with
its principal place of business located at 422 Prescott Avenue, Scranton, Pennsylvania
18510.” (Id. ¶ 3.)
Federal courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte. Meritcare Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217 (3d Cir. 1999).
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 such 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., 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.
In this matter, Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to demonstrate the requirements of federal
subject matter jurisdiction because it insufficiently alleges the citizenship of the Limited
Liability Company. The Complaint alleges that Burstnet Technologies, LLC is “a limited
liability company with its principal place of business located at 422 Prescott Avenue,
Scranton, Pennsylvania.” (Doc. 1, ¶ 2.) This is the sort of pleading which would be
appropriate for alleging the citizenship of a corporate defendant. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1)
(“a corporation shall be deemed to be a citizen of every State . . . by which it has been
incorporated and of the State . . . where it has its principal place of business.”). However,
LLC denotes not a corporation, but a limited liability company, and “the citizenship of an LLC
is determined by the citizenship of its members.” Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592
F.3d 412, 420 (3d Cir. 2010); Carden v. Arkoma Assocs., 494 U.S. 185, 195 (1990) (quoting
Chapman v. Barney, 129 U.S. 677, 682 (1889)) (affirming the “oft-repeated rule that diversity
jurisdiction in a suit by or against [an artificial] entity depends on the citizenship of ‘all the
members’”); see also 1 Fed. Proc., L. Ed. § 1:176 (2011) (acknowledging that a “limited
liability company is a citizen, for purposes of diversity jurisdiction, of each state where its
members are citizens.”).
Here, the Complaint fails to allege facts regarding the citizenship of the members of
Burstnet Technologies, LLC. As such, the Court cannot determine that diversity jurisdiction
applies to this entity.
As Plaintiff has not shown that complete diversity of citizenship exists between the
parties, the Court cannot determine that subject matter jurisdiction exists and the matter is
subject to dismissal pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(h)(3). However,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1653, Plaintiff will be permitted the opportunity to demonstrate that
diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction exists, thereby saving their Complaint. See USX Corp. v.
Adriatic Ins. Co., 345 F.3d 190, 204 (3d Cir. 2003) (noting that Section 1653 gives district
courts “the power to remedy inadequate jurisdictional allegations, but not defective
jurisdictional facts.”). As such, Plaintiff will be given twenty-one (21) days in which to file an
Failure to do so will result in the dismissal of this action.
appropriate order follows.
May 22, 2012
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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