Mas v. Perry

489 F.2d 1396 (5th Cir. 1974)



To be a citizen of a state within the meaning of 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332, a natural person must be both a citizen of the United States and a domiciliary of that state. For diversity purposes, citizenship means domicile; mere residence in the state is not sufficient.


A French citizen and American married at her home in Jackson, Mississippi. Prior to their marriage, the couple were graduate assistants at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Shortly after their marriage, they returned to Baton Rouge to resume their duties as graduate assistants at LSU and rented an apartment from a citizen of Louisiana. The couple discovered that their bedroom and bathroom contained "two-way" mirrors and that they had been watched through them by the landlord during three of the first four months of their marriage. Damages were awarded to them amounting to $20,000. The landlord filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, considering the couple were not citizens of Louisiana, which was denied by the district court. The case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.


Did the court have jurisdiction over the case?




The Court held that, under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1332(a)(2), the federal judicial power extended to the claim of appellee husband, a foreign national. While the domicile of the wife--and her state citizenship for purposes of diversity jurisdiction-- was generally deemed to be that of her husband, the court concluded that for diversity purposes a woman did not have her state citizenship changed solely by reason of her marriage to an alien. Furthermore, the amount in controversy was determined by the amount claimed in good faith rather than the amount awarded.

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