Whether the federal district court had diversity jurisdiction in a wrongful death case arising from a traffic accident, where the defendants were citizens of Kansas, the decedent was from Missouri but living in Kansas, and the decedent's personal representative and heir were citizens of Missouri.
LexisNexis Headnote 4: Diversity Jurisdiction, Citizenship For purposes of determining whether diversity jurisdiction exists, a person is a citizen of the state in which he or she is domiciled. For adults, domicile is established by physical presence in a place in connection with a certain state of mind concerning one's intent to remain there.
The decedent, who was originally from Missouri but living in Kansas, was killed when his car collided with a tractor. His personal representative and his heir, who were citizens of Missouri, brought a wrongful death action against defendants, the driver of the tractor and his employers, who were citizens of Kansas. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss on the basis that it lacked diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332.
Complete diversity did not exist among the parties. Although the personal representative, as an individual, was a citizen of the State of Missouri, her role in the case as personal representative mandated that the court focus on the citizenship of the deceased at the time of his death, not the citizenship of the personal representative herself. Although he lived the majority of his life in Missouri, he had been living in Kansas with his wife for nearly one year at the time he died and his actions demonstrated an intent to remain with his wife in the State of Kansas. Among other things, he had moved his clothes, some furniture, pictures, photo albums, and other memorabilia into the home he shared with his wife and her children; he contributed to household costs; and he purchased a new bedroom set with his wife.