United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
S. MOODY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand (Dkt. 15) and Defendant's Response in Opposition
(Dkt. 18). The Court, having reviewed the motion, response,
and being otherwise advised in the premises, concludes that
the motion should be granted because Defendant did not meet
its burden to establish diversity of citizenship.
Thomas Lugo filed the instant action in state court alleging
claims under the Florida Civil Rights Act. On September 26,
2016, Defendant JetBlue Airways Corporation removed the
action to this Court under diversity jurisdiction. With
respect to the parties' citizenship, Defendant simply
alleged only that: “Here, complete diversity of
citizenship exists. Plaintiff states that he is a resident
and domiciliary of the State of Florida. Defendant is a
foreign corporation with its principal place of business
outside of Florida.” (Dkt. 1). Defendant supported
these allegations by citing to paragraphs 2 and 3 of
now moves to remand this action, arguing, in relevant part,
that complete diversity of citizenship is not established.
The Court agrees with Plaintiff and will therefore remand
the alleged basis for federal jurisdiction is diversity under
28 U.S.C. § 1332, as it is in this case, the removing
defendant has the burden of demonstrating that there is (1)
complete diversity of citizenship and (2) an amount in
controversy greater than $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a). The district court is required to
“‘strictly construe the right to remove' and
apply a general ‘presumption against the exercise of
federal jurisdiction, such that all uncertainties as to
removal jurisdiction are to be resolved in favor of
remand.'” Scimone v. Carnival Corp., 720
F.3d 876, 882 (11th Cir. 2013) (internal punctuation marks
omitted) (quoting Russell Corp. v. Am. Home Assur.
Co., 264 F.3d 1040, 1050 (11th Cir. 2001)).
court is reviewing the citizenship of the parties to
determine if the suit meets the requirements of diversity
jurisdiction, the court must look to the citizenship of the
parties at the time the action was filed and at the time of
removal. See, e.g., Stevens v. Nichols, 130 U.S.
230, 231 (1889); Roecker v. U.S., 379 F.2d 400, 407
(5th Cir. 1967), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 1005
(1967). For purposes of diversity jurisdiction,
“citizenship” means “domicile.”
Stine v. Moore, 213 F.2d 446, 448 (5th Cir.1954). In
fact, it is a party's domicile rather than his residence
which is determinative of citizenship for diversity
jurisdiction. See Jagiella v. Jagiella, 647 F.2d
561, 563 (5th Cir.1981). In other words, an allegation of
residency is not sufficient to establish a party's
citizenship. See id.
Plaintiff's complaint simply states in its entirety:
“At all times material to this Complaint, Plaintiff, a
white male, was a resident of Hillsborough County,
Florida.” (Dkt. 1-2 at ¶2). Defendant removed
based on this sole allegation, which is woefully deficient to
establish diversity jurisdiction for two main reasons. First,
this allegation addresses Plaintiff's residency only
during the times material to the claims, which is
insufficient because citizenship is considered at the time
the complaint is filed and at the time of removal. Second,
regardless of the flawed timing, the allegation relates to
residency. Under black letter law, alleging residency does
not establish citizenship. See Jagiella, 647 F.2d at
563; Bowen v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No.
2:11-CV-91-FTM-29, 2011 WL 766283, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 25,
2011) (concluding that the complaint failed to allege
diversity jurisdiction because the plaintiff only alleged
that he was a “resident” of Florida); see
also Ucastv, Inc. v. Brandon, No. 2:13-CV-815-FTM-38,
2013 WL 6223025, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 27, 2013) (same). As a
result, Defendant failed to even allege citizenship properly
at the outset in its Notice of Removal, thereby making it
unnecessary to consider the parties' other arguments.
therefore ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that:
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Dkt. 15) is granted.
Clerk of Court is directed to remand this action to the
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, in and for Hillsborough County,
Florida, and provide that court with a copy of this Order.
Clerk of Court is further ...