Gordon v. Steele

376 F. Supp. 575

 

RULE:

It is the citizenship of the parties at the time the action is commenced which is controlling. One domiciled in a state when a suit is begun is a citizen of that state within the meaning of the Constitution, art. 3, § 2, and the Judicial Code. The fact of residency must be coupled with a finding of intent to remain indefinitely. Proof of intent to remain permanently is not the test. If the new state is to be one's home for an indefinite period of time, he has acquired a new domicile.

FACTS:

The plaintiff filed suit for medical malpractice against her doctors and hospital in Pennsylvania. Years later, the plaintiff enrolled in college in Idaho where she rented an apartment and has resided ever since. She filed suit in federal court in Pennsylvania. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of diversity jurisdiction. The defendants argued that the plaintiff, though residing in Idaho, was a citizen of Pennsylvania for all intents and purposes. For instance, the plaintiff retained a Pennsylvania driver’s license, she listed Pennsylvania as her permanent address (her parents’ house), and she returned to Pennsylvania for summer vacations and holidays. The plaintiff argued that she had no intention of returning to Pennsylvania and she considered Idaho as her permanent home. Further, she did not know where she was going to reside after her college education was over.

ISSUE:

Is the plaintiff a citizen of Pennsylvania or Idaho for diversity purposes?

ANSWER:

The plaintiff was deemed a citizen of Idaho.

CONCLUSION:

The fact that the plaintiff did not intend to return to Pennsylvania was determinative. The court held that a person’s domicile is determined by where they currently reside, and their intention to remain there indefinitely, not necessarily permanently. Here, the plaintiff was currently residing in Idaho and intended to remain there indefinitely. Thus, she was a citizen of Idaho for diversity purposes.

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