A federal court, in its determination of whether there is diversity of citizenship between the parties, must disregard nominal or formal parties to the action and determine jurisdiction based only upon the citizenship of the real parties to the controversy.
Plaintiff, a baseball figure of national reputation, filed an action in the court of common pleas, seeking temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against pending disciplinary proceedings. Defendant, the commissioner-elect of a baseball league, filed a notice of removal of action from state court to district court. Defendants baseball team and baseball league consented to the removal. Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the action to the court of common pleas, asserting lack of complete diversity of citizenship between himself and defendants. The court denied plaintiff's motion to remand.
Did the federal court have diversity jurisdiction over the action?
The controversy was between plaintiff and defendant commissioner, who were the real parties in interest. The other defendants were nominal parties. Consequently, the citizenship of defendant baseball team and defendant baseball league could be disregarded for diversity purposes. As diversity of citizenship existed between plaintiff and defendant commissioner, the court had diversity subject matter jurisdiction over the action, and the action was properly removable.