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Lemley v. Heartland Express Inc of Iowa

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 5, 2019

CHRISTINE LEMLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
HEARTLAND EXPRESS INC OF IOWA, HEARTLAND EXPRESS MAINTENANCE SERVICES, INC., HEARTLAND EXPRESS SERVICES INC., and JOSEPH CARSNER, Defendants.

          ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

          Philip A. Brimmer, Chief United States District Judge.

         The Court takes up this matter sua sponte on defendants' Notice of Removal [Docket No. 1]. Defendants state that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Docket No. 1 at 2, ¶ 5.

         In every case and at every stage of the proceeding, a federal court must satisfy itself as to its own jurisdiction, even if doing so requires sua sponte action. See Citizens Concerned for Separation of Church & State v. City & County of Denver, 628 F.2d 1289, 1297 (10th Cir. 1980). Absent an assurance that jurisdiction exists, a court may not proceed in a case. See Cunningham v. BHP Petroleum Great Britain PLC, 427 F.3d 1238, 1245 (10th Cir. 2005). Courts are well-advised to raise the issue of jurisdiction on their own, regardless of parties' apparent acquiescence. First, it is the Court's duty to do so. Tuck v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 859 F.2d 842, 844 (10th Cir. 1988). Second, regarding subject matter jurisdiction, “the consent of the parties is irrelevant, principles of estoppel do not apply, and a party does not waive the requirement by failing to challenge jurisdiction.” Ins. Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982) (internal citations omitted). Finally, delay in addressing the issue only compounds the problem if, despite much time and expense having been dedicated to the case, a lack of jurisdiction causes it to be dismissed. See U.S. Fire Ins. Co. v. Pinkard Constr. Co., No. 09-cv-00491-PAB-MJW, 2009 WL 2338116, at *3 (D. Colo. July 28, 2009).

         “The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing such jurisdiction as a threshold matter.” Radil v. Sanborn W. Camps, Inc., 384 F.3d 1220, 1224 (10th Cir. 2004). Defendants assert that this Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Pursuant to that section, “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The facts presently alleged are insufficient to establish the parties' citizenship.

         In their Notice of Removal, defendants state that plaintiff “is a resident and citizen of Jefferson County, Colorado” and defendant Joseph Carsner is a resident of Texas. Docket No. 1 at 2, ¶¶ 6, 8. However, mere residency in a state without an intent to remain is not determinative of a party's citizenship for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. See Middleton v. Stephenson, 749 F.3d 1197, 1200 (10th Cir. 2014) (“[A] person acquires domicile in a state when the person resides there and intends to remain there indefinitely.”); Whitelock v. Leatherman, 460 F.2d 507, 514 (10th Cir. 1972) (“[A]llegations of mere ‘residence' may not be equated with ‘citizenship' for the purposes of establishing diversity.”); see also Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989) (“‘Domicile' is not necessarily synonymous with ‘residence,' and one can reside in one place but be domiciled in another.” (citations omitted)). While defendants assert that plaintiff is a citizen of Colorado, this allegation is not supported by the cited paragraph of the complaint, which alleges only that plaintiff is a “resident of the State of Colorado.” Docket No. 1-1 at 2, ¶ 1.

         Because defendants' allegations are presently insufficient to allow the Court to determine the citizenship of plaintiff and defendant Carsner or whether the Court has jurisdiction, see United States ex rel. General Rock & Sand Corp. v. Chuska Dev. Corp., 55 F.3d 1491, 1495 (10th Cir. 1995) (“The party seeking the exercise of jurisdiction in his favor must allege in his pleading the facts essential to show jurisdiction.”) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted), it is

         ORDERED that, on or before 5:00 p.m. on March 13, 2019, defendants shall show cause why this case should not be remanded to state court due to ...


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