IT IS DOMICILE, NOT RESIDENCE: Florida Court Ruled Defendant Failed to Establish Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Hello TCPAWorld! The Baroness here. Found a case that caught my eye this morning.

Anna Raslavich brought suit against Albee Baby Carriage Co., Inc. for alleged violations of the Florida Telephone Solicitation Act. However, we are not going to talk about the calls or whether consent was given today.

Because, well, the case hasn’t even gotten to the merits yet.

This is about whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists based on the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).

Back to the basics.

So, Albee wanted to remove the case to federal court based on CAFA. As such, Albee bears the burden of showing that the Court’s subject matter exists.

The Class Action Fairness Act provides, in relevant part, that district courts have original jurisdiction over “any civil action in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum of value of $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is a class action in which … any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(A).

In simpler terms:

Amount in controversy must exceed $5,000,000 + minimal diversity = Subject matter jurisdiction based on CAFA.

To determine diversity, it is required to determine the citizenship of the parties.

A natural individual’s citizenship is determined by the state in which he or she is domiciled. McCormick v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d 1254, 1257 (11th Cir. 2002).

A corporation is “a citizen of every State and foreign state by which it has been incorporated and of the State or foreign state where it has its principal place of business.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1).

Albee is a corporation. Thus, Albee is a citizen of its place of incorporation and principal place of business. Albee contends that it is a New York citizen because it is incorporated under the laws of New York and has its principal place of business in New York.

On the other hand, Albee contends that Raslavich is a citizen of Florida because she is a Florida resident and that she and the telephone number assigned to her phone “were physically located in Florida at the time of the alleged telephonic sales calls.” It seems like this would be sufficient to find diversity. After all, Albee alleged she was a resident of Florida (which is not New York).

But critically, the Court pointed at, “domicile is not synonymous with residence; one may temporarily reside on in one location, yet retain domicile in a previous residence.” Molinos Valle Del Cibao, C. por A. v. Lama, 633 F.3d 1330, 1341–42 (11th Cir. 2011).

Accordingly, the Court found Albee failed to establish Raslavich’s citizenship and thus, the Court was unable to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction existed because Albee did not sufficiently establish the parties’ diverse citizenship.

A seemingly small mistake with great consequences.

Albee alleged where the Plaintiff resided but not where she was domiciled.

Note of the day: Words matter. (as the Czar always reminds me)


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