United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
October 17, 2005.
BETTIE HEINZ, Plaintiff,
SUSAN JOLIFF, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. MURPHY, Chief District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This action is before the Court for an initial review. The
Court has an independent obligation to satisfy itself that
federal subject matter jurisdiction exists. The Seventh Circuit
repeatedly warns litigants and district courts that subject
matter jurisdiction is not an issue to be taken lightly. See,
e.g., Belleville Catering Co. v. Champaign Market Place, L.L.C.,
350 F.3d 691, 692 (7th Cir. 2003) ("[o]nce again litigants'
insouciance toward the requirements of federal jurisdiction has
caused a waste of time and money").
In this case, Plaintiff seeks to invoke the Court's
jurisdiction on the basis of diversity of citizenship, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In order for this Court to have diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the parties must be of
diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy must exceed the
sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs. The
burden of proof falls on the party seeking to invoke federal
diversity jurisdiction to present "competent proof" that the
requirements of § 1332 have been met. Chase v. Shop 'N Save
Warehouse Foods, Inc., 110 F.3d 424, 427 (7th Cir. 1997);
see also McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp.,
298 U.S. 178, 179 (1936).
The amount in controversy requirement is most likely met by
Plaintiff's prayer for judgment "in an amount exceeding the
jurisdictional limits of SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($75,000);
together with interest, costs of this action. . . ." Plaintiff
must clarify, however, that she seeks "in excess of $75,000,
exclusive of interest and costs." See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The
Court is not sure what Plaintiff means by "together with
interest, costs of this action."
Finally, it is alleged that Plaintiff is a resident of the
State of Ohio, and Defendant is a resident of the State of Ohio.
(See Doc. 1, paras. 1-2.) Because federal courts have
jurisdiction over citizens of different states, a complaint must
allege the citizenship of each party, not the residence. Held
v. Held, 137 F.3d 998 (7th Cir. 1998); Pollution Control
Indus. of Am., Inc. v. Van Gundy, 21 F.3d 152, 155 (7th Cir.
1994). The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly warned that an
allegation of residency is insufficient to invoke federal subject
matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., Tylka v. Gerber Prods. Co.,
211 F.3d 445, 448 (7th Cir. 2000).
"[S]ubject matter jurisdiction must be a matter of certainty
and not of probabilities," Murphy v. Schering Corporation,
878 F. Supp. 124, 125-26 (N.D. Ill. 1995), and, at this time, the
Court is not satisfied that jurisdiction exists. See Tylka v.
Gerber Prods. Co., 211 F.3d 445, 447 (7th Cir. 2000) (noting
that federal courts are obligated to inquire sua sponte
whenever a doubt arises as to the existence of federal
jurisdiction). "[W]hile a court must dismiss a case over which it
has no jurisdiction when a fatal defect appears, leave to amend
defective allegations of subject matter jurisdiction should be
freely given." Leaf v. Supreme Court of Wis., 979 F.2d 589, 595
(7th Cir. 1992). Accordingly, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1653,
Plaintiffs shall, on or before November 10, 2005, file an
amended complaint that properly invokes the Court's subject
matter jurisdiction. Failure to do so will result in the dismissal of this action for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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