Law School Case Brief
Sheehan v. Gustafson - 967 F.2d 1214 (8th Cir. 1992)
The statute conferring diversity jurisdiction in federal court requires that the parties be citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332(a)(1). Section 1332(a) must be strictly construed, in view of the constitutional limitations upon the judicial power of the federal courts, and of the Judiciary Acts in defining the authority of the federal courts when they sit, in effect, as state courts.
Plaintiff Sheehan filed an action in February 1991 against defendant Gustafson alleging breach of an oral contract involving the proceeds of the sale of a hotel. Plaintiff brought the action in federal court alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332(a)(1), alleging that plaintiff was a citizen of Nevada and that defendant was a citizen of Minnesota. However, defendant had a presence in both Nevada and Minnesota in February of 1991, and on the defendant's motion, he United States District Court for the District of Minnesota dismissed his action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff appealed.
Did the District Court err when it granted the motion and held that Gustafson, like Sheehan, was a citizen of Nevada and thus there was no diversity of the parties?
The court held that the evidence was substantial to show Gustafson's presence and intent to remain in Nevada. Defendant Gustafson (1) possessed a Nevada's driver's license, (2) had his personal car registered there; (3) filed his taxes showing Nevada as his permanent resident; (4) had a passport that showed a Nevada address; (5) had Nevada as his domicile in his last will; and (6) was constructing a new home in Nevada. Thus, plaintiff Sheehan failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Gustafson's domicile was in fact in Minnesota at the time his suit was filed; therefore, there was no diversity.
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