United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
JOHN ROBERTSON, individually and derivatively on behalf of CSX CORP., Plaintiff,
DONNA M. ALVARADO, et al., Defendants. and CSX CORP., Nominal Defendant
MORALES HOWARD UNTIED STALES 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).
April 13, 2018, Plaintiff, individually and derivatively on
behalf of CSX Corp., filed his Verified Shareholder
Derivative Complaint (Doc. 1; Complaint). In the Complaint,
Plaintiff asserts that the Court has diversity jurisdiction
over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because
“upon information and belief, there is complete
diversity of citizenship among the parties, ” and
“the amount in controversy in this case exceeds $75,
000.00.” See Complaint ¶ 10.
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he is a “resident
of Texas, ” and that the individual Board member
Defendants have a “principal place of business”
in Jacksonville, Florida. Id. ¶¶ 12-28. In
addition, Plaintiff asserts that “Nominal Defendant CSX
Corporation is incorporated in Virginia with its principal
place of business” in Jacksonville, Florida.
Id. ¶ 13. These allegations are insufficient to
demonstrate the citizenship of the Plaintiff or individual
Defendants. As such, the Court is unable to determine whether
it has diversity jurisdiction over this action.
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). Here, the Complaint discloses Plaintiff's
residence, but does not identify his domicile or state of
citizenship. “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) (“‘Domicile' is not
necessarily synonymous with ‘residence'”).
Likewise, as to the individual Defendants, Plaintiff
identifies their “principal place of business”
but fails to allege their respective states of citizenship.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not alleged
the facts necessary to establish the Court's diversity
jurisdiction over this case.
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, Count Two of the Complaint
incorporates by reference all allegations of the preceding
count. See Complaint ¶ 93.
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.”).
the Court notes that Rule 23.1, Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure (Rule(s)), sets forth certain pleading requirements
for derivative actions such as this one. Among other things,
Rule 23.1(b)(2) provides that the complaint must
“allege that the action is not a collusive one to
confer jurisdiction that the court would otherwise
lack.” Upon review of the Complaint, it appears that
Plaintiff failed to comply with this requirement. In light of
the foregoing, the Court will give Plaintiff an opportunity
to file an amended verified complaint which properly
establishes diversity of citizenship between the parties such
that this Court has jurisdiction over this action,
complies with Rule 23.1, and corrects the shotgun nature of
1. The Verified Shareholder Derivative Complaint (Doc. 1) is
2. Plaintiff shall file an amended verified complaint which
complies with this Order on or before May 14,
2018. Failure to do so may result in a
dismissal of this action.
3. Defendants shall respond to the amended complaint in
accordance with the requirements of Rule 15 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure.