Piccarreta v. Chief Oil & Gas, LLC et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re #1 Complaint filed by Robert Piccarreta.Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 3/22/17. (jam)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CHIEF OIL & GAS, LLC, et al.,
Presently before me is Plaintiff’s Complaint (Doc. 1), which fails to adequately plead
the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. As such, the case will be dismissed, unless
Plaintiff files an amended complaint curing the jurisdictional defects within fourteen (14)
days from the date of entry of the Order.
Federal courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte. See Meritcare Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217 (3d Cir. 1999).
28 U.S.C.A. § 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 (1978). “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).
See also Carlsberg Res. Corp. v. Cambria Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 554 F.2d 1254, 1256 (3d Cir.
1977); Fed R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).
For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a natural person is deemed to be a citizen of
the state where he or 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 (1915)). Domicile is established
by one's physical presence in a state, or residence, and intent to remain there indefinitely.
Washington v. Hovensa LLC, 652 F.3d 340, 344 (3d Cir.2011). A person may have only one
domicile, and thus may be a citizen of only one state for diversity jurisdiction purposes.
Williamson v. Osenton, 232 U.S. 619 (1914).
Here, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants for violations of state law,
alleging that this Court has original jurisdiction over the matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the
diversity statute. The Complaint states only that Plaintiff is “an adult residing” in
Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, at ¶1). It does not, however, state where Plaintiff is a citizen.1
Residence is not the same as domicile and does not establish citizenship for diversity
purposes. See Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298, 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).
Moreover, Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to demonstrate the requirements of federal
subject matter jurisdiction because it insufficiently identifies the citizenship of the Defendant
companies. For instance, the Complaint alleges only that Defendant Chief Oil & Gas, LLC
is “organized to do business under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” and
has a “registered address for service of process” in Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, at ¶2). Such
averments are insufficient because the citizenship of an LLC is determined by the
citizenship of its members, not by its service of process address, principal place of business,
or place of organization, as Plaintiff’s counsel appears to believe. See 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 “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
Or, more precisely, where Plaintiff was a citizen at the time the suit was commenced. See
Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global Grp., 541 U.S. 567, 570-71 (2004).
“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 any facts regarding the
citizenship of the members of Defendant Chief Oil & Gas, LLC. The Complaint contains
similar deficiencies as to other Defendants as well. As such, I cannot determine that
diversity jurisdiction applies to this suit.
Because the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction has not been properly alleged, the
instant suit will be dismissed, unless Plaintiff, within fourteen (14) days from the date of the
Order, files an amended complaint curing all jurisdictional defects.
An appropriate Order follows.
March 22, 2017
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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