Ogbonna v. USPLABS, LLC et al
ORDER for plaintiff to verify that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction by 12/5/13. Signed by Judge Kathleen Cardone. (dl1)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
EL PASO DIVISION
SYLVIA OGBONNA on behalf of and
as representative for DEMEKIA
USPLABS, LLC; JONATHAN
VINCENT DOYLE; JACOB
GEISSLER; USPLABS JACK3D,
LLC; USPLABS OXYELITE, LLC;
USPLABS HOLDING, LLC;
INTERNATIONAL, INC.,; and DOES
On this day, the Court sua sponte considered the above-captioned case (the “Case”).
Because “courts are obligated to consider sua sponte issues” relating to subject matter
jurisdiction “that the parties . . . have not presented,” the Court must evaluate whether it may
exercise jurisdiction over the Case. Gonzalez v. Thaler, --- U.S. ----, 132 S. Ct. 641, 648 (2012)
(citing United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002)). The sole basis alleged for the Court’s
subject matter jurisdiction in the Case is diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See
Compl. ¶ 1, ECF no. 1. Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity; that is, no plaintiff
may be a citizen of the same state as any properly joined defendant. See, e.g., Strawbridge v.
Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 267-68 (1806). For the reasons described below, it is unclear whether the
parties in the Case are completely diverse. Accordingly, the Court ORDERS plaintiff Sylvia
Ogbonna (“Plaintiff”) to verify that this Court’s exercise of diversity jurisdiction is proper.
Plaintiff alleges that “[a]t the time of her death, Plaintiff-Decedent DEMEKIA COLA
[‘Plaintiff-Decedent’] was a resident of the state of Texas.” Compl. ¶ 14. Thus, it appears that
Plaintiff-Decedent was a domiciliary, and therefore a citizen, of Texas. See, e.g., Hollinger v.
Home State Mut. Ins. Co., 654 F.3d 564, 571 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Preston v. Tenet
Healthsystem Mem’l Med. Ctr., 485 F.3d 793, 797-98 (5th Cir. 2007)).
Although Plaintiff alleges she is a citizen of the state of Mississippi, Compl. ¶ 15, 28
U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2) provides that, for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, “the legal
representative of the estate of a decedent shall be deemed to be a citizen only of the same State as
the decedent” (emphasis added). Accord, e.g., Acridge v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan
Soc’y, 334 F.3d 444, 447-48 (5th Cir. 2003). However, it is unclear whether 28 U.S.C. §
1332(c)(2) applies in the Case, given that Plaintiff also brings a wrongful death cause of action
against Defendants in her own capacity. See, e.g., Webb v. Banquer, 19 F. Supp. 2d 649, 651-52
(S.D. Miss. 1998) (citations omitted) (“[C]ourts’ interpretations of section 1332(c)(2)’s
applicability to wrongful death actions have been less than uniform).
The foregoing demonstrates that, while it is unclear, it is at least possible that Plaintiff,
Plaintiff-Decedent, or both are citizens of Texas for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction.
Several of Defendants also appear to be citizens of Texas. For instance, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants Jonathan Vincent Doyle (“Doyle”) and Jacob Geissler (“Geissler”) reside in Texas.
Compl. ¶ 5. If Doyle and Geissler are in fact domiciliaries of Texas, then they may be citizens of
the same State as Plaintiff and/or Plaintiff-Decedent, in which case the Court would lack
diversity jurisdiction over the Case. See, e.g., Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 267-68 (1806);
Hollinger v. Home State Mut. Ins. Co., 654 F.3d 564, 571 (5th Cir. 2011) (citing Preston v. Tenet
Healthsystem Mem’l Med. Ctr., 485 F.3d 793, 797-98 (5th Cir. 2007)). Likewise, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant USPLabs, LLC (“USPLabs”) is a limited liability company in which
Doyle and Geissler are members. See Compl. ¶ 6. For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction, “the
citizenship of a LLC is determined by the citizenship of all of its members.” Harvey v. Grey Wolf
Drilling Co., 542 F.3d 1077, 1080 (5th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). Thus, if Doyle and
Geissler are citizens of Texas, then so is USPLabs, and Defendants may be incompletely diverse
from Plaintiffs. See, e.g., Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 267-68 (1806); Harvey v. Grey
Wolf Drilling Co., 542 F.3d 1077, 1080 (5th Cir. 2008). Consequently, the Court needs further
information before it is satisfied that it has authority to hear the Case.
Therefore, the Court ORDERS Plaintiff to verify that this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over the Case by December 5, 2013. In particular, Plaintiff must (1) specify the
citizenship of each Plaintiff and each Defendant; (2) explain whether Plaintiff should be deemed
to be a citizen of the same State as Plaintiff-Decedent pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2); and (3)
explain whether, under applicable law, the Court should consider Plaintiff-Decedent’s citizenship
for diversity purposes. Further, if there is any other basis for this Court’s jurisdiction over the
Case, Plaintiff should provide the Court with relevant facts and citation to legal authority.
SIGNED this 4th day of November, 2013.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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