United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
SYNOVUS BANK, as successor by merger to Global One Financial, Inc., Plaintiff,
LONNIE D. SLOAN, as Trustee for the Frederick D. Harris Irrevocable Trust dated November 1, 1996, and DR. FREDERICK D. HARRIS, individually, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
17, 2017, Plaintiff Synovus Bank (“Plaintiff”)
filed its First Amended Complaint  (“Amended
Amended Complaint asserts that the Court has diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Am. Compl.
¶ 15). Federal courts “have an independent
obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any
party.” Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S.
500, 501 (2006). The Eleventh Circuit consistently has held
that “a court should inquire into whether it has
subject matter jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in
the proceedings. Indeed, it is well settled that a federal
court is obligated to inquire into subject matter
jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be
lacking.” Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d 405, 410 (11th Cir. 1999). In this case, the Amended
Complaint raises only questions of state law and the Court
only could have diversity jurisdiction over this matter.
jurisdiction exists where the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000 and the suit is between citizens of different
states. 28 U.S.C § 1332(a). “Diversity
jurisdiction, as a general rule, requires complete
diversity-every plaintiff must be diverse from every
defendant.” Palmer Hosp. Auth. of Randolph
Cnty., 22 F.3d 1559, 1564 (11th Cir. 1994).
“Citizenship for diversity purposes is determined at
the time the suit is filed.” MacGinnitie v. Hobbs
Grp., LLC, 420 F.3d 1234, 1239 (11th Cir. 2005).
“The burden to show the jurisdictional fact of
diversity of citizenship [is] on the . . . plaintiff.”
King v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 505 F.3d 1160, 1171
(11th Cir. 2007) (alteration and omission in original)
(quoting Slaughter v. Toye Bros. Yellow Cab Co., 359
F.2d 954, 956 (5th Cir. 1966)).
Amended Complaint does not adequately allege diversity
jurisdiction because it fails to identify the citizenship of
any party in this case. The Amended Complaint asserts that
“Plaintiff is a state-chartered bank organized under
the laws of the State of Georgia and is a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp., a Georgia corporation
and bank holding company.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 4). This
is insufficient because “[a] state chartered bank is a
citizen not only of the state in which it is incorporated,
but also of the state where its principal place of business
is located.” Goines v. Barclays Capital Real
Estate, Inc., No. 12-cv-08656, 2012 WL 12888690, at *3
(C.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2012); see One West Bank, N.A. v.
Melina, 827 F.3d 214, 220 (2d Cir. 2016) (“[A]
state-chartered corporation-which includes state-chartered
banks-is a citizen of both the state of incorporation and the
state of its principal place of business.”);
Thompson v. Sun Trust Mortg., Inc., No.
1:15-cv-1348, 2015 WL 11622447, at *1 (N.D.Ga. July 17,
Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Dr. Frederick D.
Harris (“Harris”) “is an individual
resident of the state of Ohio.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 9).
This is insufficient because “[r]esidence alone is not
enough” to establish citizenship. Travaglio v. Am.
Exp. Co., 735 F.3d 1266, 1269 (11th Cir. 2013). For
United States citizens, “[c]itizenship is equivalent to
‘domicile' for purposes of diversity jurisdiction,
” and “domicile requires both residence in a
state and ‘an intention to remain there
indefinitely.'” Id. (quoting McCormick
v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d 1254, 1257-58 (11th Cir. 2002)).
Amended Complaint alleges that Defendant Lonnie D. Sloan
(“Sloan”), trustee for the Frederick D. Harris
Irrevocable Trust, “may be served at the Trust address
at 55 East Juniper Lane, Moreland Hills, Ohio 44022”
and “may also be served at 85 Sterncrest Drive,
Moreland Hills, Ohio 44022, or upon information and belief,
at his personal residence at 4532 Saint Germain Boulevard,
Cleveland, Ohio 44128-6206.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶
7-8). “[W]hen a trustee files a lawsuit or is sued in
her own name, her citizenship is all that matters for
diversity purposes.” Americold Realty Trust v.
Conagra Foods, Inc., 136 S.Ct. 1012, 1016 (2016);
LMP Ninth St. Real Estate, LLC v. U.S. Bank Nat'l
Ass'n, No. 8:16-cv-2463, 2016 WL 6068302, at *3
(M.D. Fla. Oct. 17, 2016) (“As U.S. Bank is being sued
in its own name as trustee of a traditional trust, U.S.
Bank's citizenship is determinative for diversity
purposes.”); cf. Bynane v. Bank of New York
Mellon, __F.3d__, 2017 WL 3304047, at *3-4 (5th Cir.
Aug. 3, 2017). Plaintiff's allegations that Sloan resides
and can be served in Ohio are insufficient because, for the
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, an individual is a
citizen of the state in which he resides and intends
to remain indefinitely. “Residence alone is not
enough.” Travaglio, 735 F.3d at 1269.
is required to file an amended complaint properly alleging
the citizenship of the parties in this case. Unless Plaintiff
does so, the Court must dismiss this action for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Travaglio, 735 F.3d
at 1268-69 (holding that the district court must dismiss an
action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction unless the
pleadings or record evidence establishes
foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
Plaintiff shall file, on or before September 12, 2017, an
amended complaint properly alleging the citizenship of the
parties in this case. Failure to do so will result in
dismissal of this action.
 Plaintiff, in its forthcoming amended
complaint, should clearly show that Defendant Sloan, as
trustee, “possesses certain customary powers to hold,
manage, and dispose of assets for the benefit of
others” and that his “control over the assets
held in [his] name is real and substantial.”
Navarro Sav. Ass'n v. Lee, 446 U.S. 458, 465
(1980); see Bynane, 2017 WL 3304047, at *3
(“Where a trustee has been sued or files suit in her
own name, the only preliminary question a court must answer
[for purposes of diversity ...