United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
February 8, 1983
JOHN HANCOCK MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
CENTRAL NATIONAL BANK IN CHICAGO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This mortgage foreclosure action has been filed here on
claimed diversity of citizenship grounds under
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). But responsive to the requirements of Illinois law
for a binding foreclosure decree,*fn1 plaintiff has named
"unknown owners and non-record claimants" as parties defendant,
contemplating notice to them by publication in accordance with
statute.*fn2 That joinder of "unknown owners and non-record
claimants" poses subject matter jurisdictional problems this
Court must raise and deal with sua sponte.
Defendants whose precise identities are unknown are often
recognized in the federal court system. One recurring
situation is the alleged police brutality case in which the
plaintiff knows a policeman was involved but can ascertain his
identity only through discovery. Such "John Doe" defendant
situations of course pose no problem under federal-question
jurisdiction (in the hypothetical example, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983),
and their diversity jurisdiction counterparts (though
less frequently encountered) are not necessarily problematic
either. Even though a plaintiff must both
plead and prove diversity,*fn3 so long as that can be done in
good conscience the plaintiff remains in the federal
Here, however, by definition plaintiff cannot satisfy the
requirement of pleading and proving diversity. It is
tautological to say plaintiff cannot demonstrate "unknown
owners and non-record claimants" are citizens of a state other
than plaintiff's. Fifty Associates v. Prudential Insurance Co.
of America, 446 F.2d 1187, 1191 (9th Cir. 1970) (a mortgage
foreclosure case posing related problems, relying on and
following Molnar v. NBC, 231 F.2d 684, 686-87 (9th Cir. 1956)).
Accordingly this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over this action. It is therefore dismissed sua sponte.*fn5