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Hertz Corp. v. Friend

Supreme Court of the United States

November 10, 2009, Argued; February 23, 2010, Decided

No. 08-1107

Opinion

Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

The 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1) (emphasis added). We seek here to resolve different interpretations that the Circuits have given this phrase.  In doing so, we [**1186]  place primary weight upon the need for judicial administration of a jurisdictional statute to remain as simple as possible. And we conclude that the phrase "principal place of business" refers to the place where the corporation's high level officers direct, control, and coordinate the corporation's activities. Lower federal courts have often metaphorically [*81]  called that place  [****9] the corporation's "nerve center." See, e.g., Wisconsin Knife Works v. National Metal Crafters, 781 F.2d 1280, 1282 (CA7 1986); Scot Typewriter Co. v. Underwood Corp., 170 F. Supp. 862, 865 (SDNY 1959) (Weinfeld, J.). We believe that the "nerve center" will typically be found at a corporation's headquarters.

In September 2007, respondents Melinda Friend and John Nhieu, two California citizens, sued petitioner, the Hertz Corporation, in a California state court. They sought damages for what they claimed were violations of California's wage and hour laws. App. to Pet. for Cert. 20a. And they requested relief on behalf of a potential class composed of California citizens who had allegedly suffered similar harms.

Hertz filed a notice seeking removal to a federal court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(2), 1453. Hertz claimed  [***1035] that the plaintiffs and the defendant were citizens of different States. §§ 1332(a)(1), (c)(1). Hence, the federal court possessed diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction. Friend and Nhieu, however, claimed that the Hertz Corporation was a California citizen, like themselves, and that, hence, diversity jurisdiction was lacking.

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559 U.S. 77 *; 130 S. Ct. 1181 **; 175 L. Ed. 2d 1029 ***; 2010 U.S. LEXIS 1897 ****; 78 U.S.L.W. 4153; 22 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 130

THE HERTZ CORPORATION, Petitioner v. MELINDA FRIEND et al.

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Friend v. Hertz Corp., 297 Fed. Appx. 690, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 22592 (9th Cir. Cal., 2008)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

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Civil Procedure, Diversity Jurisdiction, Citizenship, Business Entities, US Supreme Court Review, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Jurisdiction on Certiorari, Considerations Governing Review, Federal Court Decisions, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Congressional Limits, Jurisdiction, Diversity Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation