United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff Frederick Peet's Motion to
Remand this matter to state court (Doc. 16). Defendant
Christopher Green filed a Response in opposition (Doc. 22).
For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is
case is brought under the now-abolished Illinois alienation
of affection statute, 740 ILCS 5/1 et seq. Plaintiff
filed a Complaint in St. Clair County, Illinois Circuit Court
alleging that Defendant had pursued and seduced Rita Peet
(Plaintiff's wife), resulting in a pending divorce.
(Complaint, Doc. 1-1). He seeks actual damages from the loss
of his wife's financial contributions to the marriage;
approximately $85, 000 per year. (Id.). Defendant
subsequently removed the case to this Court, claiming that
removal was proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a) and
1441(a) because complete diversity between the parties exists
and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, exclusive
of interest and costs. (Notice of Removal, Doc. 1).
state court Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he
“maintained a marital residence” in Belleville,
Illinois during all times relevant to the case. (Doc. 1-1,
¶1). The Complaint further alleges that Defendant was a
resident of St. Clair County, Illinois. (Id. at
¶ 2). The Notice of Removal asserts that at the time the
present suit was filed, Defendant was a citizen of St. Louis
County, Missouri. (Doc. 1, ¶7). It also asserts that the
Complaint establishes Plaintiff as a citizen of Illinois and
that the amount in controversy exceeds $85, 000 (Id.
at ¶¶ 6, 9). Plaintiff argues that there is no
diversity of citizenship because both he and Defendant are
citizens of Missouri. (Doc. 16 at ¶ 7).
district courts are courts of limited jurisdiction which
“possess only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs.,
Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005) (quoting Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377
(1994)). The party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction
bears the burden of showing that the requirements for subject
matter jurisdiction are satisfied. Smart v. Local 702
Int'l Bhd. of Electrical Workers, 562 F.3d 798,
802-03 (7th Cir. 2009). “When challenged on allegations
of jurisdictional facts, the parties must support their
allegations by competent proof.” Hertz Corp. v.
Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 96-97 (2010). Courts interpret the
removal statutes narrowly, resolving “any doubts
regarding subject matter jurisdiction in favor of
remand.” Kenosha Unified Sch. Dist. v. Stifel
Nicolaus & Co. Inc., 607 F.Supp.2d 967, 973 (E.D.
Wis. 2009) (citing Doe v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 985
F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993)).
Defendant has filed motions to dismiss and for sanctions
which are currently pending, the threshold question is
whether this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the
case at all. Subject matter jurisdiction based on
Section 1332(a) requires complete diversity of citizenship
among the parties plus an amount in controversy that exceeds
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. Citizenship of an
individual is the state of the individual's
domicile-“the state he considers his permanent
home.” Galva Foundry Co. v. Heiden, 924 F.2d
729, 730 (7th Cir. 1991). A party's declaration of
citizenship is not to be taken at face value. Instead, the
focus is on the “center of gravity” for that
party's lifestyle. Id. Factors relevant to a
person's intent to make a residence his or her domicile
include “current residence, voting registration and
voting practices, location of personal and real property,
location of financial accounts, membership in unions and
other associations, place of employment, driver's license
and automobile registration, and tax payments.”
Strabala v. Zhang, 318 F.R.D. 81, 97 (N.D. Ill.
2016) (citation omitted).
affidavit, Plaintiff states that the Illinois “marital
residence” referenced in the Complaint is one of three
residences he maintains (the other two being in Lake of the
Ozarks, Missouri and Franklin County, Missouri), that his
place of residence has been Missouri since 1986, and that he
intends to remain there. (Affidavit of Frederick Peet, Doc.
16 at 4-5). He further attests that the Franklin County
residence is where he resides and the house in Belleville was
where his wife resided (Id.); that he has a Missouri
driver's license (renewed in 2016); is registered to vote
in Missouri; and has his medical practice in Missouri.
(Id. at 4-9).
argues that under Illinois law, a person can have only one
“residence, ” and because Plaintiff states in the
Complaint that he maintained a residence in
Illinois, he is estopped from claiming citizenship of any
other state. This argument fails at several points. First,
“citizenship cannot be acquired by estoppel[.]”
Galva, 924 F.2d at 730-731. Second, (the effective
date of the abolition of the alienation of affection statute)
but recently enough to avoid a statute of limitations issue.
Therefore, the Court will take up the question of its own
jurisdiction first. Defendant's reliance on Marksym
v. Board of Election Com'rs of City of Chicago, 950
N.E.2d 1051 (2011) is misplaced. A state court decision is
irrelevant to a federal court's determination of a
party's citizenship for purposes of federal subject
matter jurisdiction. “[F]ederal law controls this
court's subject matter jurisdiction, and state law cannot
expand or contract that grant of jurisdiction[.]”
First Transit, Inc. v. City of Racine, 359 F.Supp.2d
782, 785 (E.D. Wis. 2005) (citing Goetzke v. Ferro
Corp., 280 F.3d 766, 778-79 (7th Cir. 2002)). Under
federal law, citizenship and residence are distinct concepts
such that alleging a state of residence is inadequate to
establish a party's citizenship. See Myrick v.
WellPoint, Inc., 764 F.3d 662, 664 (7th Cir. 2014).
Thus, Plaintiff's assertion in the Complaint that he
maintained a residence in Illinois is not dispositive.
also argues that Plaintiff's 2016 income tax filings,
filed in 2017, show that he considered himself a resident of
Illinois. Specifically, Defendant points out that Plaintiff
(through his tax preparer) made sworn declarations that both
he and his wife are full-time residents of Illinois and
non-residents of Missouri. Additionally, the documents
indicate that Plaintiff claimed an Illinois Property Tax
Credit on the Belleville residence, which Defendant argues is
only available if a taxpayer's primary residence is in
aside for the moment questions of authenticity, the
applicability of the Federal Rules of Evidence at this stage
of litigation and whether these documents would be considered
“competent proof” under Hertz, the Court
does not find the documents to be dispositive. In
Galva, the question that was raised was where the
defendant was domiciled at the time of suit-Illinois or
Florida. On the one hand, he spent the most time at his
Illinois residence; maintaining church and country club
memberships. Upon leaving his company, however, he had
registered to vote in Florida, had taken out a Florida
driver's license, had stated in an application for a
Florida tax exemption that he had become a permanent resident
of Florida, and had listed his Florida address as his
permanent address on both his federal and Illinois income tax
Seventh Circuit found that notwithstanding the
defendant's official representations that his domicile
was in Florida, the reality was that he had never really
intended to change the “center of gravity” of his
life from Illinois. Specifically, the Court determined that
the defendant's claims of permanent residency and
domicile in Florida were made in an attempt to claim
favorable tax status rather than an actual desire to base his
life outside of that state. Noting that “citizenship
cannot be acquired by estoppel, ” the Seventh Circuit
affirmed the trial court's determination that even this
“shady business” did not make the defendant a
Florida citizen for diversity purposes. Galva, 924
F.2d at 729-731. Similarly, Plaintiff's alleged
representations on tax forms here are not determinative in
light of the significant official and unofficial ties to
Missouri that Plaintiff has maintained.
another court in this District previously found that
Plaintiff was domiciled in Missouri for purposes of
determining federal diversity jurisdiction. In that case,
Plaintiff was himself sued in Illinois state court in
December 2015 and attempted to remove the case to federal
court on diversity grounds, claiming that he was a citizen of
Illinois. Stegmeyer v. Peet, No. 16-CV-0096-MJR-PMF,
2016 WL 1039954, at *1 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 16, 2016). After
analyzing factors including Plaintiff's possession of two
Missouri residences, his Missouri medical practice, Missouri
voter registration, payment of taxes in Missouri and Missouri
driver's license, District Judge Michael Reagan
concluded, “Peet is now [March 2016], was in December
2015 when this suit was filed in state court, and was in
January 2016 when the suit was removed to this Court,
domiciled in Missouri.” Id. at *3.
correctly argues that Judge Reagan's determination in
Stegmeyer is not the last word on the matter. Time
has passed since Judge Reagan's ruling, individuals are
allowed to change their place of domicile, and there is now
some question as to whether the “pays Missouri
taxes” factor applies. However, there is a presumption
in favor of an individual's old, established domicile,
and asserting a change in domicile requires proof of both a
physical presence at the new location and an intention to
remain there indefinitely. Kenosha Unified Sch.
Dist., 607 F.Supp.2d at 974 (citing Texas v.
Florida, 306 U.S. 398, 427 (1939) and Lew v.
Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 750-51 (9th Cir.1986)).
Defendant has not presented adequate proof of Plaintiff's
intention to transfer his domicile from Missouri to Illinois.
As was the case in Galva, there may be some
“shady business” involved in Plaintiff's
statements about residency for tax purposes, which the taxing
authorities of each state may want to discuss with him. But
that does not settle the issue for ...