Cleare v. EA Management Services, Inc., Slip Copy, 2008 WL 1711533 (S.D.Fla. Apr 10, 2008)

The linked-to case does a nice job of explaining the pleading requirements for establishing diversity jurisdiction in a case involving a personal representative. The point to keep in mind is that you have to focus on the domicile of the decedent, NOT the personal representative.  Here’s how the court explained the rule:

Section 1332(c) specifically prescribes the allegations sufficient to establish jurisdiction in federal court. The district courts “have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000” and is between “citizens of different states.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) (2006). Residency is not the equivalent of citizenship for diversity purposes. See 13B Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction 2d § 3611 (1984).

Moreover, it is not Plaintiff’s citizenship that controls whether diversity between the Parties exists. For purposes of establishing diversity pursuant to § 1332, “the legal representative of the estate of a decedent shall be deemed to be a citizen only of the same State as the decedent.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(2) (2006). Defendants have failed to include any allegation of the deceased Stephen Fenner’s citizenship. The only allegation in the record to this effect is found in the state court Amended Complaint: “2. At all times material, Plaintiff’s decedent, Stephen Fenner (“Mr.Fenner”), was a resident of Georgia.” DE 1, Ex. 4, p. 2. However, as stated above, this allegation is insufficient to establish citizenship. 13B Wright & Miller, supra.

If you’re wondering why simply alleging that the decedent was a resident of Georgia doesn’t cut it for purposes of pleading diversity jurisdiction, the following excerpt from 13B Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction 2d § 3611 (1984), which is cited in the quoted text above, explains why:

The diversity jurisdiction of the federal courts is defined in terms of the citizenship of the parties to the action. According to Section 1332 of Title 28 of the United States Code, diversity jurisdiction exists if the action is between citizens of different states of the United States or between citizens of states of the United States and citizens or subjects of foreign nations.[FN1] However, neither the Constitution nor the Judicial Code describes the degree of identification with a state or a foreign country contemplated by the term “citizen.” The definition of citizenship in this context has been left to judicial development. The result has been the evolution by the courts of the following tests for determining the citizenship of natural persons: (1) a person is considered a citizen of a state if that person is domiciled within that state[FN2] and is a citizen of the United States;[FN3] (2) a person is considered a citizen or subject of a foreign nation if he or she is accorded that status by the laws or government of that country.[FN4]