Civil Procedure Class Notes
We left off with Mottley. The language “arising under” that we find in the Constitution and in the statute can have different meanings. In particular, we read the “Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule” into the statute.
that this means is that the Mottleys tried to file
their case in federal court under federal question subject matter jurisdiction. The court resolves the issue, but it goes to
the Supreme Court which says that the lower court that heard the case had no jurisdiction
to hear it in the first place. Then the Mottleys go to
Mottley is an example of federal “arising under” jurisdiction.
This is the oldest form of federal subject matter jurisdiction. It was included in the 1789 Judicial Act that actually established the lower federal courts. The roots of diversity jurisdiction are old and deep, though it is one of the most controversial subjects the federal courts deal with.
Mottleys were in
We have citizens from different states. We have a controversy that exceeds $75,000 in value. We also have the problem of corporate citizenship. Where does the company live?
Do we have $75,000 at issue? Say the Mottleys were injured today. Say they got free airfare on American Airlines for life. Does this necessarily exceed $75,000? Not exactly. What are we going to do? We could gather some evidence for how much this is worth.
The simple matter is that your petition will simply allege that the matter in controversy is greater than $75,000. Make the defendants argue against jurisdiction. Your claim will be accepted on its face unless the complaint plainly contradicts this.
about the “citizens of different States” requirement? The Mottleys live
On the other hand, we have…
This is one of Fairman’s absolute favorite cases.
Mas is a citizen of
say only Jean-Paul sued Perry. It’s “
Notice that § 1332(a) tells us that an alien who has been admitted as a permanent resident is considered a citizen of the state where they are domiciled.
So if we have Jean-Paul v. Perry, we have a good lawsuit that can be heard in federal court. Let’s add Judy. What’s wrong with that?
court says there is some confusion over her citizenship. She might be a citizen of
does it matter where she’s from? If she’s
The Rule of Complete Diversity
No party on one side may be a citizen of the same state as any party on the other side.
The Rule of Complete Diversity is to diversity jurisdiction as the Well-Pleaded Complaint Rule is to federal question jurisdiction. It is a rule that comes from the interpretation of the relevant federal law (§ 1332) rather than from the Constitution.
This rule comes from the case of Strawbridge v. Curtis. Yeazell doesn’t make us read this dumb, tedious case.
This is important, because if this rule is statutory rather than constitutional, that means that Congress can provide jurisdiction in the federal courts for something less than complete diversity. They have done so! They passed the Federal Interpleader Act, which only requires “minimal diversity”, meaning diversity between at least two of the claimants. Remember that all the Constitution says is “citizens of different States”. This has been interpreted differently constitutionally than it has been interpreted through the statute.
What could Congress do if it wanted? It could allow federal jurisdiction over cases with minimal diversity. Fairman says that’s probably the opposite direction from the way federal judges want to see this develop.
makes a huge difference whether Judy is from
How do we figure out her citizenship? The court says that we determine citizenship by determining domicile.
Domicile, in turns, means (1) residence plus (2) intent to remain. Where are you? Do you intend to stay there?
In Gordon, the court weighed certain factors for
Could the court be “peeking” at the merits? In both cases, the courts made decisions that allow plaintiffs to go forward with lawsuits when the alternative was no alternative at all due to statute of limitations. Also, the plaintiffs in both cases were highly sympathetic.
There are different facts in the two cases, and an inquiry into domicile is essentially a factual inquiry.
Subject matter jurisdiction is a “time bomb” inside your litigation!
Tomorrow, we will conclude by looking at the statute a little more. Then we will get into a complicated issue in diversity jurisdiction that the Circuits are split on when we look at Saadeh.
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