United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
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 Mortgage
Co., 243 F.3d 1277, 1279-1280 (11th Cir. 2001); see
also Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th
Cir. 1994). 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).
January 8, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (Doc. 1)
asserting that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because
“the parties are citizens of different states and the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.” See
Complaint ¶ 2. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff
Merlin Kauffman “currently resides in Puerto
Rico.” Id. ¶ 4. In addition, Plaintiff
alleges “[u]pon information and belief, ” that
Defendant Trans High Corporation is a New York company with a
principal place of business in New York, and Defendant High
Times Holding Corporation is a Delaware company with a
principal place of business in California. Id.
¶¶ 5-6. Upon review of these allegations, the Court
is unable to determine whether it has diversity jurisdiction
over this action because Plaintiff has inadequately pled the
citizenship of the parties to this case.
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). “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
addition, “[t]he federal diversity jurisdiction statute
provides that ‘a corporation 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 removed). Although Plaintiff appears to allege this
information as to each Defendant, Plaintiff does so only
“[u]pon information and belief.” See
Complaint ¶¶ 5-6. Allegations premised only on
“information and belief, ” are plainly
insufficient to establish the citizenship of Defendants as
necessary to invoke this Court's subject matter
jurisdiction. See, e.g., Payne v.
Ivy, No. 6:18-cv-3-Orl-18KRS, 2018 WL 1155987, at *1
(M.D. Fla. Jan. 22, 2018) (“Allegations made
‘upon information and belief' are not sufficient to
support jurisdictional allegations, however.”);
Matos-Cruz v. JetBlue Airways Corp., No.
6:17-cv-380-Orl-37TBS, 2017 WL 3268956, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Aug.
1, 2017) (“Courts have held that allegations concerning
a party's citizenship based only ‘on information
and belief' are insufficient.”); Principle
Solutions LLC v. Feed.ing BV, No. 13-C-223, 2013 WL
2458630, at *2 (E.D. Wis. June 5, 2013).
accordance with this authority, further clarification is
required from Plaintiff to establish the Court's subject
matter jurisdiction over this action. First, Plaintiff must
specify his citizenship, rather than merely his residence. In
addition, Plaintiff must affirmatively allege the citizenship
of Defendants based on personal knowledge of, not mere
information and belief about, their states of incorporation
and principal places of business. See Wilkins v.
Stapleton, No. 6:17-cv-1342-Orl-37GJK, 2017 WL 11219132,
at *1 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 1, 2017). Without these additional
clarifications, the allegations presently before the Court
are insufficient to invoke the Court's subject matter
jurisdiction over this action. Accordingly, it is
shall have up to and including January 27,
2020, to provide the Court with sufficient
information so that it can determine whether it has diversity
jurisdiction over this action.
 The failure to adequately allege
diversity jurisdiction in this case is certainly not unique.
See Wilkins v. Stapleton, No.
6:17-cv-1342-Orl-37GJK, 2017 WL 11219132, at *1 (M.D. Fla.
Aug. 1, 2017) (“Diversity jurisdiction appears to
create the biggest pleading challenge for the Bar.”).
But, as aptly stated in Wilkins, the all-to-common
“failure to demonstrate even a passing familiarity with
the jurisdictional requirements of the federal courts results
in a waste of judicial resources that cannot continue.”
[t]he U.S. District Court for the Middle District of
Florida is one of the busiest district courts in the country
and its limited resources are precious. Time spent screening
cases for jurisdictional defects, issuing orders directing
repair of deficiencies, then rescreening the amended filings
and responses to show cause orders is time that could and
should be devoted to the substantive work of the
Id. at *1 n.4. As such, before filing any
future pleadings in federal court, counsel is strongly
encouraged to review the applicable authority on federal
subject matter jurisdiction. See id. at *1-2
(bulleting several “hints” on how to ...