Gordon v. Steele
376 F. Supp. 55 (W.D. Pa. 1974)
Yeazell p. 7-11
Facts: Gordon is suing Steele and two other defendants for
medical malpractice that she claims took place in February of 1972. The defendants are citizens of Pennsylvania,
and so was the plaintiff, until at least August 9th, 1972, the date
that she enrolled in college in Idaho and rented an apartment. She filed a suit on
Issue: Can a student attending college in a different state from her parents be considered a citizen of the new state for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction?
Rule: You must be a citizen of a different state as the defendant on the day you file a suit to qualify for diversity jurisdiction. It’s up to you, the plaintiff, to prove that the parties are citizens of different states.
Analysis: The method of this judge is to chalk up the points for
Gordon being a citizen of
There is a contemporary issue that is important in this case. In the old days, students off at college out of state were not considered to have “gained or lost a residence” by going to school there. One reason people thought that way was that college students were generally financially provided for by their parents.
At the time this ruling came down, things were changing. The age of majority was being lowered in many states to 18 from 21. This influenced the court in determining whether or not Gordon was emancipated from her parents.
Conclusion: The court found as a matter of fact that Gordon was a
Notes and Problems
court put a lot of weight on the plaintiff’s own statements saying she planned
to remain in
court’s weighing of the facts is kind of subjective, but if Gordon lived in a
dormitory, it would at least tip the scales against her being a citizen of
would tip the scales in favor of her not being a citizen of
is interesting, and you have to look closely at the quote from Gallagher v.
Philadelphia Transportation Company.
The last sentence of that quote basically says that it doesn’t matter if
the plaintiff leaves the state or intends to leave the state later on, so
long as it doesn’t become apparent later that the plaintiff didn’t have the
intent to remain in the first place. The
defendants would argue, whether she moved back in six months or six days, that
she was insincere when she said she intended to remain in
b. Gordon’s lawyer could have claimed that she was
still a citizen of
3. c. I think it’s suggested from the preceding section of the case book that she could sue her lawyer for malpractice. That would blow. She would have two malpractice suits in a row.
4. So what to do with the Peters case? Well, the book seems to imply that Peters is better off filing the case when he gets back to school. The only reason I can think of off the top of my head for filing immediately is from Note 3b: if you get the case going sooner, you’d have a better shot at getting in under the statute of limitations in case you failed to prove diversity in federal court. That would only be a week’s time different, though. But when your guy Peters gets to school…boy oh boy, he should go nuts getting an apartment and a driver’s license and joining the local Rotary Club and going shopping for a house and putting a big ad in the campus newspaper that says “I, AMBROSIA X. PETERS, INTEND TO REMAIN A CITIZEN OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN FOREVER AND EVER!”