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A person's citizenship for purposes of diversity is based upon his domicile. Domicile is the place where a person has his true fixed home and principal establishment, and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning. A person can have multiple residences but only one domicile. One may have more than one residence in different parts of the country or the world, but a person may have only one domicile. Domicile is determined as of the date the complaint is filed. A person's domicile, once established, is presumed to continue absent evidence that it has been changed. To effect a change in domicile, two elements are required: (1) residence in a new domicile; and (2) the intention to remain there indefinitely. A person asserting a change in domicile bears the burden of proving it by clear and convincing evidence.
Plaintiff Paul Ceglia commenced the present action in New York State Supreme Court asserting a breach of contract claim against defendants Mark Elliot Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc. ("Facebook"). Defendants removed to federal court based upon diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff moved to remand claiming that diversity was lacking because he and defendant Zuckerberg were both domiciled in New York. According to plaintiff, Zuckerberg's actual domicile remained New York where his parents still resided. Plaintiff claimed that Zuckerberg has failed to demonstrate his intent to remain in California indefinitely and, as such, the law presumed that his prior New York domicile remained. Zuckerberg opposed the motion and claimed that his domicile was California.
Was Zuckerberg domiciled in New York, thereby warranting the grant of plaintiff’s motion to remand the case on the basis of lack of federal diversity jurisdiction?
The court noted that a person’s domicile, once established, was presumed to continue absence evidence that it has been changed. To effect a change in domicile, two elements were required: (1) residence in a new domicile; and (2) the intention to remain there indefinitely. Normally, courts would consider the following objective indicators to ascertain domiciliary intent: current residence; voting registration and voting practices; location of personal and real property; location of brokerage and bank accounts; membership in unions, fraternal organizations, churches, clubs, and other associations; place of employment or business; driver's license and automobile registration and payment of taxes. In this case, the court found that there was ample evidence of Zuckerberg’s change in domicile to California and his intent to remain there indefinitely. Accordingly, federal diversity jurisdiction existed.