Carroll et al v. Waterman Excavating, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 1 Complaint filed by Marian Carroll, Michael Carroll. Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 11/6/17. (dw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MICHAEL CARROLL and MARIAN
WATERMAN EXCAVATING, INC.
and CECIL LIPSCOMB, JR.,
Presently before the Court is a Complaint filed by Plaintiffs Michael Carroll and
Marian Carroll. (See Doc. 1). Because the Complaint fails to establish that the Court
has subject matter jurisdiction over this action, it will be dismissed unless Plaintiffs
can show that diversity jurisdiction is proper.
Plaintiffs commenced this action on November 3, 2017. (See Doc. 1). Plaintiffs
allege that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332 by virtue of the amount in controversy and the complete diversity of the
parties. (See id. at ¶ 5).
Plaintiffs Michael and Marian Carroll are alleged to be adult individuals that
“reside[ ] at 421 Champion Circle, Throop, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania,
18512.” (Id. at ¶¶ 1-2). Defendant Waterman Excavating Inc. is “a single location
business that is privately owned which maintains its principle [sic] place of business
at 2 Gavin Avenue, Adams, Massachusetts 01220.” (Id. at ¶ 3). Defendant Cecil
Lipscomb, Jr. “resides at 306 Beaver Street, North Adams, Massachusetts 01247 . . .
.” (Id. at ¶ 4).
Federal courts have an obligation to address issues of subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte. See Shaffer v. GTE N., Inc., 284 F.3d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing Club
Comanche, Inc. v. Gov't of the V.I., 278 F.3d 250, 255 (3d Cir. 2002)). Plaintiffs’
Complaint alleges that the Court has jurisdiction 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 diversity 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. of
Ohio State Univ., 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. 12(h)(3).
Citizenship of Plaintiffs.
The Complaint fails to adequately allege the citizenship of Plaintiffs. For
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a natural person is deemed to be a citizen of the state
in which he 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)). 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, 625 (1914).
To the extent the Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs “reside[ ]” in 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 (“Where one lives
is prima facie evidence of domicile, but mere residency in a state is insufficient for
purposes of diversity.”). To properly plead diversity, the state of citizenship of each
Plaintiff must be alleged, not merely his or her state of residence. As the Complaint
does not contain these facts, the Court cannot determine whether subject matter
Citizenship of Defendants.
The Complaint also fails to properly allege the citizenship of Defendants. For
reasons explained above with respect to the allegations regarding the citizenship of
Plaintiffs, the allegations of individual Defendant Cecil Lipscomb, Jr.’s citizenship are
inadequate. Although he is alleged to “reside” in Massachusetts, this is insufficient.
To properly plead diversity, Plaintiffs must allege his state of citizenship, not merely
his state of residence.
Plaintiffs also fail to properly allege the citizenship of Defendant Waterman
Excavating Inc. A corporation may have more than one state of citizenship: “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.” 28
U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). If a party is a corporation, in order to properly plead diverse
citizenship, a plaintiff must allege both the corporation's state of incorporation and its
principal place of business. See VICI Racing, LLC v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 763 F.3d
273, 282 (3d Cir. 2014). A corporation may only have one principal place of business,
and proper invocation of diversity jurisdiction requires that the plaintiff allege where
a corporation has “its principal place of business.” See S. Freedman & Co., Inc. v.
Raab, 180 F. App'x 316, 320 (3d Cir. 2006) (affirming the district court's dismissal of
a complaint alleging where the plaintiff corporation maintained “a principal place of
business,” rather than “its principal place of business”). A corporation's principal
place of business is its “nerve center,” that is, the place “where a corporation's officers
direct, control, and coordinate the corporation's activities.” Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559
U.S. 77, 130 S. Ct. 1181, 1192, 175 L. Ed. 2d 1029 (2010).
Here, while the Complaint adequately identifies where Waterman Excavating
Inc. has its principal place of business, the Complaint fails to allege its state of
incorporation. Because Plaintiffs do not identify the corporate Defendant’s state of
incorporation, Plaintiffs have not properly plead the citizenship of the corporate
Because the Court cannot determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists,
this matter is subject to dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3).
However, Plaintiffs will be given an opportunity to amend the Complaint to
adequately allege the existence of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs will be granted
twenty-one (21) days in which to file an amended complaint. Failure to do so will
result in this action being dismissed.
An appropriate order follows.
November 6, 2017
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?