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McBride v. Karumanchi - No. 1:12cv1047-MHT, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88363 (M.D. Ala. July 8, 2015)

Rule:

The law is also well-established that a person is not necessarily a citizen of, or domiciled in, the state in which she resides at any given moment. Instead, "citizenship," or "domicile," is determined by two elements: (1) physical presence within a state; and (2) the mental intent to make a home there indefinitely.

Facts:

Plaintiff McBride developed a rare skin disease after receiving treatment at a county hospital. She originally filed a lawsuit against the several defendants. She asserted claims that the Health Care Authority and the doctors committed medical malpractice in violation of Alabama law and that the City of Dothan and its correctional officers were deliberately indifferent to her medical needs. She asserted that the court had both diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1332) as well as federal-question (28 U.S.C. § 1331) and supplemental jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1367). Plaintiff McBride served in the military in Florida. McBride attended and graduated from Florida A&M University, and paid in-state tuition.

Issue:

Did the trial court have diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332  to try the remaining state law claim?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court held that it had diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.The totality of the evidence showed that McBride was domiciled in Florida by December 2011, mainly because of her long residency in Florida over nearly 10 years, including time in the Navy, renting several apartments, and attending two schools. This established domicile gave McBride the presumption that Florida remained her domicile. The question was whether McBride's activity between December 2011 and November 2012 changed her citizenship from Florida to Alabama. There were conflicting signals. Between December 2011 and June 2012, McBride went back and forth between Florida, where she stayed with friends, and Alabama, where she stayed with her mother. Nothing in that time, however, indicated that she changed her intent to wanting to live in Alabama. Indeed, McBride testified that she intended to return to Florida, and, given that she spent the vast majority of her adult life in Florida, the court had no reason to doubt that testimony. McBride's time spent in Alabama during her hospitalization and the several months afterward did not change the presumption. When McBride was hospitalized and recovering during the summer of 2012, she had no choice about where to live. In the fall of 2012, the few months following her hospitalization, she spent time in both Florida and Alabama. In sum, on November 29, 2012, when the case was filed, McBride continued to be a citizen of Florida.

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