Hawkins v. Masters Farms Inc., WL 21555767 (D. Kan. 2003)
FACTS: On December 8, 2000, Mr. Creal was killed in an automobile accident on Mineral Point Road, just south of Troy, Kansas, when his 1988 Chevrolet van collided with a New Holland tractor driven by Defendant Masters [a citizen of Kansas]. From the time Mr. and Mrs. Creal first met until Mr. Creal’s death in December 2000, Mr. Creal retained certain connections with the State of Missouri.
PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiffs filed action in federal court alleging the existence of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
JUDGMENT: Defendants’ motion to dismiss granted.
ISSUE: Whether Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas or the State of Missouri at the time of his death.
HOLDING OF THE COURT: Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas at the time of his death.
RATIONALE: At the time of Mr. Creal’s death, he not only established a physical presence in the State of Kansas, but also displayed an intent to remain there, demonstrating no diversity of citizenship. Although Mr. Creal retained some connections with the State of Missouri, the court did not find these connections sufficient to overcome the evidence that his actions from January 2000 until the time of his death demonstrated an intent to remain with his wife in the State of Kansas. Therefore, subject matter jurisdiction could not be established.
COMMENTS: When 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.” Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989). In this case, the Defendants attacked Plaintiffs’ allegations of diversity subject matter jurisdiction. As the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction, Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving that jurisdiction is proper. Because federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, the presumption is against federal jurisdiction.