F.E.S. et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry)Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 4/22/14. (jam)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
F.E.S., a minor, by and through
ARISTIDES SEPULVEDA and WANDA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:14-739
CRUZ, as Parents and Natural Guardians,
CASEY M. EPPERSON,
Presently before the Court is a Complaint filed by Plaintiffs F.E.S., Aristides
Sepulveda, and Wanda Cruz . (Doc. 1.) Because the Complaint fails to establish that this
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the action, it will be dismissed unless Plaintiffs can
show that diversity jurisdiction is proper.
Plaintiffs bring this action alleging diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Compl., ¶ 1.) Plaintiff F.E.S. is alleged to be “a minor currently residing at 115 Briarwood
Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18302.” (Id. at ¶ 2.) Plaintiffs Aristides Sepulveda and Wanda
Cruz are also alleged to “resid[e] at 115 Briarwood Road, East Stroudsburg, PA 18302.” (Id.
at ¶ 3.)
Defendant Casey M. Epperson is alleged to be “an adult and competent individual
currently residing at 601 Chatas Court, Lake Mary, FL 32746.” (Id. at ¶ 4.)
Federal courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte. See Shaffer v. GTE North, Inc., 284 F.3d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Club
Comanche, Inc. v. Gov't of the Virgin Islands, 278 F.3d 250, 255 (3d Cir. 2002)). Plaintiffs
allege that the Court’s basis for jurisdiction is pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). 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 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, 98 S. Ct. 2396, 57 L. Ed. 2d 274
(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, 25 S. Ct. 24, 49 L. Ed. 160 (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. 12(h)(3).
Citizenship of Plaintiff
For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a natural person is deemed to be a citizen of
the state where she is domiciled. Swiger v. Allegheny Energy, Inc., 540 F.3d 179, 182
(3d Cir. 2008) (citing Gilbert v. David, 235 U.S. 561, 569, 35 S. Ct. 164, 59 L. Ed. 360
(1915)). To be domiciled in a state, a person must reside there and intend to remain
indefinitely. Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298, 1300-01 (3d Cir. 1972). A person may
have only one domicile, and thus may be a citizen of only one state for diversity
jurisdiction purposes. See Williamson v. Osenton, 232 U.S. 619, 34 S. Ct. 442, 58 L. Ed.
To the extent the Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs F.E.S., Aristides Sepulveda,
and Wanda Cruz “reside” in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, this is not sufficient.
Residence is not the same as domicile and does not establish citizenship for diversity
purposes. See Krasnov, 465 F.2d at 1300 (3d Cir. 1972) (“Where one lives is prima facie
evidence of domicile, but mere residency in a state is insufficient for purposes of
diversity”) (internal citations omitted). To properly allege diversity, Plaintiffs must allege
their state of citizenship, not merely their state of residence. As the Complaint does not
contain these facts, the Court cannot determine whether subject matter jurisdiction
Citizenship of Individual Defendant
The Complaint also fails to adequately allege the citizenship of Defendant
Epperson. As set forth above, a natural person is deemed to be a citizen of the state
where he or she is domiciled. See Swiger, 540 F.3d at 182. Here, the Complaint only
alleges that Epperson “resid[es]” in Lake Mary, Florida. (Compl., ¶ 4.) Thus, the Court
cannot determine whether there is proper jurisdiction over Defendant.
For the above stated reasons, the Complaint fails to adequately plead the citizenship
of Plaintiffs or Defendant. As Plaintiffs have 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 Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3).
However, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1653, Plaintiffs will be permitted the opportunity to
demonstrate that diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction exists, thereby saving the 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, Plaintiffs will be given twenty-one (21) days in
which to file an amended complaint. Failure to do so will result in the dismissal of this
An appropriate order follows.
April 22, 2014
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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