United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
ALEX HARRIS on behalf of himself and on behalf of his minor children, J.H., F.P., and L.H., as parent and natural guardian, Plaintiffs,
A TEAM LEASING, LLC d/b/a BUDDY'S HOME FURNISHINGS, Defendant.
MORALES HOWARD United States District Judge.
CAUSE is before the Court sua sponte.
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and
therefore have an obligation to inquire into their subject
matter jurisdiction. See Kirkland v. Midland Mortg.
Co., 243 F.3d 1277, 1279-80 (11th Cir. 2001). This
obligation exists regardless of whether the parties have
challenged the existence of subject matter jurisdiction.
See Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d
405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[I]t is well settled that a
federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be
lacking”). “In a given case, a federal district
court must have at least one of three types of subject matter
jurisdiction: (1) jurisdiction under a specific statutory
grant; (2) federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331; or (3) diversity jurisdiction pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).” Baltin v. Alaron
Trading, Corp., 128 F.3d 1466, 1469 (11th Cir. 1997).
12, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint for Damages and
Injunctive Relief (Doc. 1; Complaint). In the Complaint,
Plaintiffs assert that the Court has diversity jurisdiction
over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because
“Plaintiffs and Defendant are citizens of different
states, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,
000.00.” See Complaint ¶ 9. Specifically,
Plaintiffs allege that they are “residents of Florida,
” and that Defendant is a “business entity
incorporated in Georgia, with the principal place of business
located in Georgia.” Id. However, these
allegations are insufficient to demonstrate the citizenship
of Plaintiffs or Defendant. As such, the Court is unable to
determine whether it has diversity jurisdiction over this
court to have diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a), “all plaintiffs must be diverse from
all defendants.” Univ. of S. Ala., 168 F.3d at
412. To establish diversity over a natural person, a
complaint must include allegations of the person's
citizenship, not where he or she resides. See Taylor v.
Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994). A natural
person's citizenship is determined by his or her
“domicile, ” or “the place of his true,
fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment . . .
to which he has the intention of returning whenever he is
absent therefrom.” McCormick v. Aderholt, 293
F.3d 1254, 1257-58 (11th Cir. 2002) (quotation and citation
omitted). Because the Complaint discloses Plaintiffs'
residence, rather than their domicile or state of
citizenship, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have not alleged
the facts necessary to establish the Court's jurisdiction
over this case. “Citizenship, not residence,
is the key fact that must be alleged in the complaint to
establish diversity for a natural person.”
Taylor, 30 F.3d at 1367 (emphasis supplied); see
also Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490
U.S. 30, 48 (1989) (“‘[d]omicile' is not
necessarily synonymous with ‘residence'”).
addition, Plaintiffs declare that Defendant A Team Leasing,
LLC (A Team) “is a Georgia Corporation.”
See Complaint ¶ 12. As such, Plaintiffs rely on
28 U.S.C. § 1332(c) to maintain that A Team Leasing is a
citizen of Georgia because it is “incorporated in
Georgia, with the principal place of business located in
Georgia.” Id. ¶ 9. The problem with these
allegations, however, is that A Team's name indicates
that it is a limited liability company (LLC), not a
corporation. A Team cannot be both a limited liability
company and a corporation. Moreover, because the requirements
for demonstrating the citizenship of a limited liability
company and a corporation are different, the Court cannot
determine A Team's citizenship from the assertions in the
purposes of establishing diversity jurisdiction, “a
limited liability company is a citizen of any state of which
a member of the company is a citizen.” Rolling
Greens MHP, L.P. v. Comcast SCH Holdings L.L.C., 374
F.3d 1020, 1022 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). A corporation,
on the other hand, “‘shall be deemed to be a
citizen of any State by which it has been incorporated and of
the State where it has its principal place of
business.'” Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559
U.S. 77, 80 (2010) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1))
(emphasis omitted). Thus, to sufficiently allege the
citizenship of an LLC, a party must list the citizenship of
each of the LLC's members, but to allege the citizenship
of a corporation, a party must identify the states of
incorporation and principal place of business. See
Rolling Greens, 374 F.3d at 1021-22; 28 U.S.C. §
1332(c)(1). Here, as A Team is denominated as an LLC, but
Plaintiffs have alleged jurisdiction as if it is a
corporation, the Court is unable to determine A Team's
citizenship. As such, clarification is necessary to establish
this Court's diversity jurisdiction. First, Plaintiffs
must specify whether A Team is an LLC or a corporation. If,
despite its name, A Team Leasing, LLC is a corporation, the
Court can determine that it is a citizen of Georgia based on
the information contained in the Complaint. However, if A
Team is, as it appears to be, an LLC, Plaintiffs must
establish the citizenship of each of its
members. Therefore, the information presently
before the Court is insufficient to invoke the Court's
subject matter jurisdiction over this action.
addition, the Court finds that the Complaint constitutes an
impermissible “shotgun pleading.” A shotgun
complaint contains “multiple counts where each count
adopts the allegations of all preceding counts, causing each
successive count to carry all that came before and the last
count to be a combination of the entire complaint.”
See Weiland v. Palm Beach Cnty. Sheriff's
Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1321 & n.11 (11th Cir. 2015)
(collecting cases). As a result, “most of the counts .
. . contain irrelevant factual allegations and legal
conclusions.” Strategic Income Fund, L.L.C. v.
Spear, Leeds & Kellogg Corp., 305 F.3d 1293, 1295
(11th Cir. 2002). Consequently, in ruling on the sufficiency
of a claim, the Court is faced with the onerous task of
sifting out irrelevancies in order to decide for itself which
facts are relevant to a particular cause of action asserted.
See id. Here, Counts Two and Three of the Complaint
incorporate by reference all allegations of all the preceding
counts. See Complaint ¶¶ 61, 69.
Eleventh Circuit, shotgun pleadings of this sort are
“altogether unacceptable.” Cramer v. State of
Fla., 117 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 1997); see also
Cook v. Randolph County, 573 F.3d 1143, 1151 (11th Cir.
2009) (“We have had much to say about shotgun
pleadings, none of which is favorable.”) (collecting
cases). Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has engaged in a
“thirty-year salvo of criticism aimed at shotgun
pleadings, and there is no ceasefire in sight.” See
Weiland, 792 F.3d at 1321 & n.9 (collecting cases).
As the Court in Cramer recognized, “[s]hotgun
pleadings, whether filed by plaintiff or defendant, exact an
intolerable toll on the trial court's docket, lead to
unnecessary and unchanneled discovery, and impose unwarranted
expense on the litigants, the court and the court's
parajudicial personnel and resources.” Cramer,
117 F.3d at 1263. When faced with the burden of deciphering a
shotgun pleading, it is the trial court's obligation to
strike the pleading on its own initiative, and force the
plaintiff to replead to the extent possible under Rule 11,
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See id.
(admonishing district court for not striking shotgun
complaint on its own initiative); see also Weiland,
792 F.3d at 1321 n.10 (“[W]e have also advised that
when a defendant fails to [move for a more definite
statement], the district court ought to take the initiative
to dismiss or strike the shotgun pleading and give the
plaintiff an opportunity to replead.”).
light of the foregoing, the Court will give Plaintiff an
opportunity to file an amended complaint which properly
establishes diversity of citizenship between the parties such
that this Court has jurisdiction over this action,
corrects the shotgun nature of the Complaint.
Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief (Doc. 1) is
Plaintiffs shall file an amended complaint curing the shotgun
nature of the Complaint and the jurisdictional deficiencies
on or before June 28, 2017. Failure to do so
may result in a dismissal of this action.
Defendant shall respond to the amended complaint in
accordance with the requirements of Rule 15 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.