United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
are kin to Daphne Lawrence Ricks ("Decedent"). On
September 22, 2017, Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se,
initiated the present action against Defendants alleging that
medical malpractice and/or other negligent acts or omissions
of Defendants resulted in Decedent's death in late
September 2015. (See Doc. 1.) On December 4, 2017,
Plaintiffs filed their active amended complaint. (Doc. 8.) On
December 11, 2017, Defendants moved to dismiss
Plaintiffs' amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), (4), & (5). (Doc. 9.)
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and are required to
inquire into their [subject matter] jurisdiction at the
earliest possible point in the proceeding." Kirkland
v. Midland Mortgage Co., 243 F.3d 1277, 1279-80 (11th
Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). Indeed,
A court lacking jurisdiction cannot render judgment but must
dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceedings in which it
becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking. The party
invoking the jurisdiction of the court has the duty to
establish that federal jurisdiction does exist but, since the
courts of the United States are courts of limited
jurisdiction, there is a presumption against its existence.
Thus, the party invoking the federal court's jurisdiction
bears the burden of proof.
If the parties do not raise the question of lack of
jurisdiction, it is the duty of the federal court to
determine the matter sua sponte. Therefore, lack of
jurisdiction cannot be waived and jurisdiction cannot be
conferred upon a federal court by consent, inaction or
Fitzgerald v. Seaboard Sys. R.R., Inc., 760 F.2d
1249, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985) (per curiam) (internal
quotations, citations, and alterations omitted).
their amended complaint, Plaintiffs assert that the Court has
subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to the
federal diversity jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. §
1332. (Doc. 8, ¶ 1.) "Diversity jurisdiction, as a
general rule, requires complete diversity - every plaintiff
must be diverse from every defendant." Palmer v.
Hosp. Auth. of Randolph Cty., 22 F.3d 1559, 1564 (11th
Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). "Citizenship, not
residence, is the key fact that must be alleged in the
complaint to establish diversity for a natural person."
Taylor v. Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir.
1994) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332); see also
McCormick v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d 1254, 1257-58 (11th Cir.
2002) ("Citizenship is equivalent to 'domicile'
for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. A person's
domicile is the place of his true, fixed, and permanent home
and principal establishment, and to which he has the
intention of returning whenever he is absent therefrom.
Furthermore, a change of domicile requires a concurrent
showing of (1) physical presence at the new location with (2)
an intention to remain there indefinitely." (internal
quotations, citations, alterations, and footnotes omitted)).
"For a corporate defendant the complaint must allege
either the corporation's state of incorporation or
principal place of business." Taylor, 30 F.3d
at 1367 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332). ''[D]iversity
jurisdiction is measured at the time the action is
filed." PTA-FLA, Inc. v. ZTE USA, Inc., 844
F.3d 1299 (11th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted)).
their amended complaint, Plaintiffs failed to plead: (i)
Plaintiffs' citizenships; (ii) the natural
Defendants' citizenships; and (iii) the corporate
Defendants' states of incorporation or principal places
of business. (See Doc. 8.) Rather, Plaintiffs only
allege in their amended complaint the residence of a handful
of the Plaintiffs and the address where the Defendants
allegedly "operated from." (Id. ¶ 5;
but see Id. ¶ 2 ("Subject matter
Jurisdiction to the federal court is impacted by
Plaintiffs' domiciles while Chaslie's and Petrice are
primarily in Augusta Georgia and Decedent's siblings are
located in other states such as; Dr. Gwendolyn Harrison
currently resides in California, Gregory Lawrence in Arizona,
Charlie Juniors in North Carolina creating a jurisdictional
diversity at minimal standing.").) Accordingly, because
Plaintiffs have the burden to "affirmatively allege
facts demonstrating the existence of jurisdiction, " yet
failed to allege the relevant facts necessary for the Court
to determine whether there exists complete diversity, the
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction on the face of the
amended complaint. See Taylor, 30 F.3d at 1367
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)).
even if the Court were to look beyond the face of the amended
complaint, complete diversity still would not exist because
at least one of both the Plaintiffs and the Defendants are
Georgia citizens. Indeed, Defendants Jim Davis, Reyne Gallup,
William Farr, and Edward Burr all assert they are Georgia
citizens and Defendant University Hospital asserts that it is
incorporated - and has its principal place of business -in
Georgia. (See Doc. 9, at 3.) Further, Decedent's
daughter, Plaintiff Chaslie Lawrence Ricks, does not deny
that she was a Georgia citizen at the time she initiated this
lawsuit. (See Doc. 8, SISI 2, 5.)
Accordingly, because each and every plaintiff is not diverse
from each and every defendant in this action, complete
diversity is lacking. See Palmer, 22 F.3d at 1564.
to avoid dismissal, Plaintiffs argue that this action may
proceed under the federal interpleader statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1335, because at least one of the Plaintiffs is
diverse from at least one of the Defendants. (See
Doc. 14, at 5 (citing State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v.
Tashire, 386 U.S. 523, 530 (1967) (federal interpleader
statute ''has been uniformly construed to require
only 'minimal diversity, ' that is, diversity of
citizenship between two or more claimants, without regard to
the circumstance that other rival claimants may be
co-citizens." (footnote omitted))).) Yet Plaintiffs have
failed to demonstrate the applicability of the federal
interpleader statute to the instant litigation, which
requires that there be "two or more adverse
claimants." See 28 U.S.C. § 1335(a)(1)
(emphasis added); Fulton v. Kaiser Steel Corp., 397
F.2d 580, 582 (5th Cir. 1968) ("There must be two or
more adverse claimants for statutory interpleader
purposes."). Indeed, even if the Court were to again
ignore Plaintiffs' failure to plead the parties'
citizenship, and thereby their failure to carry their burden
to demonstrate even minimal diversity, Plaintiffs' claims
against Defendants - all of which seek to recover from
Defendants without prejudice to or competition with the other
Plaintiffs - simply cannot be considered adverse to one
another as presently pleaded. Further, this action itself -
which seeks to hold Defendants directly and/or vicariously
liable for their negligent actions or omissions - can hardly
be considered to be in the nature of interpleader. See
State of Texas v. State of Florida, 306 U.S. 398, 412
(1939) ("In the case of bills of peace, bills of
interpleader and bills in the nature of interpleader, the
gist of the relief sought is the avoidance of the burden of
unnecessary litigation or the risk of loss by the
establishment of multiple liability when only a single
obligation is owing."); McBride v. McMillian,
679 Fed.Appx. 869, 871 (11th Cir. 2017)
(''Interpleader allows a party who holds money
claimed by multiple adverse claimants to avoid multiple
liability by asking the court to determine the asset's
rightful owner. The party holding the funds typically claims
no interest in the asset and does not know the asset's
rightful owner." (internal quotations and alterations
omitted) (citing In re Mandalay Shores Co-op. Hous.
Ass'n, Inc., 21 F.3d 380, 383 (11th Cir. 1994)));
United States v. High Tech. Products, Inc., 497 F.3d
637, 641 (6th Cir. 2007) (''Interpleader is an
equitable proceeding that affords a party who fears being
exposed to the vexation of defending multiple claims to a
limited fund or property that is under his control a
procedure to settle the controversy and satisfy his
obligation in a single proceeding." (internal quotations
and citations omitted)). Moreover, the Court can locate no
alternative jurisdictional basis upon which Plaintiffs may
rely in bringing their instant lawsuit. Accordingly, the
Court must dismiss this action for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. See Fitzgerald, 760 F.2d at 1251.
upon the foregoing and due consideration, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendants' motion to
dismiss (doc. 9) is GRANTED and
Plaintiffs' claims are hereby DISMISSED
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Clerk is
directed to TERMINATE all motions and
deadlines and CLOSE this case.
 Notably, Plaintiffs have not alleged
that the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28
U.S.C. § 1332(d), is applicable to the present action.
CAFA may provide jurisdiction where "any member of the
plaintiff class is diverse from any defendant" (i.e.,
where there exists, inter alia, "minimal
diversity"). Lowery v. Alabama Power Co., 483
F.3d 1184, 1193-94 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d)(2)). Nevertheless, because there are not 100 or more
plaintiffs and Plaintiffs have not alleged that their
aggregated claims exceed $5, 000, 000, the Court concludes
that CAFA is inapplicable to the instant action. See
id. at 1194 ("CAFA provides federal courts with
jurisdiction over class actions provided that: the number of
plaintiffs in all proposed plaintiff classes exceeds one
hundred, § 1332(d)(5)(b) . . . ...