United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
KARINE L. MAIER, as surviving spouse of James R. Maier and as Executrix of the Estate of James R. Maier, Plaintiff,
GREEN EYES USA, INC.; EAUSTINO JIMENEZ, CANAL INSURANCE COMPANY; SHELLY, MIDDLEBROOKS & O'LEARY, INC.; AEQUICAP INSURANCE COMPANY; K.V. CARRIER SERVICES, INC.; JAKE KANONITZ; KANNON & KANNON INSURANCE, INC.; DOT SERVICES CORP.; AEQUICAP PROGRAM ADMINISTRATORS, INC.; WESTFIELD INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is the parties' briefings on the citizenships
of Decedent James Maier and Defendant Faustino Jimenez (Doc.
339; Doc. 34 4; Doc. 34 8; Doc. 352), and Defendants'
Motion to Reopen Discovery (Doc. 340}. For the following
reasons, the Court finds that the record has been
sufficiently developed to establish that Decedent James Maier
was a citizen of Georgia at the time of his death. The Court,
however, finds that the record is insufficient to establish
the citizenship of Defendant Jimenez. Accordingly,
Defendants' request to reopen limited discovery is
GRANTED IN PART. Defendants will be
permitted to conduct limited jurisdictional discovery in
order to further develop the record with respect to Defendant
Jimenez's citizenship until March 6,
case arises from a traffic accident which resulted in the
death of James Maier. (Doc. 1, Ex. 3 at 8.} On February 17,
2009, Plaintiff Karine Maier brought suit in the State Court
of Chatham County seeking to recover for the wrongful death
of her husband, James Maier. (Id.) On November 10,
2009, Defendants removed this action to this Court based
on diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1.) In their notice
of removal, Defendants alleged that Defendant Faustino
Jimenez was "a resident of Florida." (Id.
at 2.) Defendants, however, failed to make any representation
in the notice of removal with respect to the citizenship of
Decedent James Maier. (Id.)
5, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit reviewed the notice of removal
to determine its jurisdiction over this action and found the
notice of removal to be deficient. (Doc. 337.) Accordingly,
the Eleventh Circuit remanded this action to this Court for
the "limited purpose of making the factual determination
of (1) where Jimenez was a citizen at the time of removal,
and (2) where decedent James Maier was a citizen at the time
of his death." (Id.) In accordance with the
Eleventh Circuit's order, this Court instructed the
parties to file briefing detailing the citizenships of both
Decedent Maier and Defendant Jimenez. (Doc. 338.)
31, 2018, Defendants filed a brief highlighting evidence to
demonstrate the citizenships of both Defendant Jimenez and
Decedent Maier. (Doc. 339.) Defendants claim that the record
clearly shows that Defendant Jimenez was a resident of
Florida, and that Decedent Maier was a resident of Georgia at
the time of his death. (Id.) Alternatively,
Defendants filed a motion, requesting that the Court reopen
discovery to permit Defendants to supplement the record in
this case. For her part, Plaintiff disputes Defendants'
arguments that the record is sufficient to establish either
Defendant Jimenez's or Decedent Maier's citizenship.
Moreover, Plaintiff opposes Defendants' reguest to reopen
discovery. Plaintiff contends that Defendants have had over
388 days to conduct discovery and have failed to clearly
establish the citizenship of either Decedent Maier or
Defendant Jimenez. (Doc. 344 at 9.) Accordingly, Plaintiff
contends that Defendants should not be now allowed to reopen
discovery. (Doc. 343.) Before considering whether limited
discovery is appropriate in this action, the Court must
consider whether Defendants have offered enough evidence to
establish the citizenship or either Defendant Jimenez or
to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), an action filed in state court
may be removed to federal court based upon diversity or
federal question jurisdiction. When removal is based on
diversity jurisdiction, "[t]he party seeking to invoke a
federal forum traditionally bears the burden of persuasion on
jurisdictional issues such as establishing the citizenship of
the parties." Life of S. Ins. Co. v. Carzell,
851 F.3d 1341, 1344 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing McHutt v.
Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. of Ind., 298 U.S. 178, 189
(1936); Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092,
1094 (11th Cir, 1994)). Typically, the removing party can
satisfy this burden by "show[ing], by a preponderance of
the evidence, facts supporting jurisdiction."
Burns, 31 F.3d at 1094.
individual, "citizenship is determined by domicile, and
it is well established that '[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.'"
Cordell Funding, LLLP v. Jenkins, 722 F. App'
x 890, 894 n.2 (11th Cir. 2018) (quoting Sunseri
v. Macro Cellular Partners, 412 F.3d 1247, 1249 (11th
Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted)). When determining a
person's domicile, this Court accepts certain
presumptions as true. These presumptions include the
presumption "that the state in which a person resides at
any given time is also that person's domicile,"
McDonald v. Equitable Life Ins. Co. of
Iowa, 13 F.Supp.2d 1279, 1281 (M.D. Ala. 1998) (citing
District of Columbia v. Murphy, 314 U.S. 441, 455
(1941)), and that "once an individual has established a
domicile, he remains a citizen there until he satisfies the
mental and physical requirements of domicile in a new
state," id. (citing McDougald v.
Jenson, 786 F.2d 1465, 1483 (11th Cir. 1986)). Outside
of these presumptions, courts are permitted to
examine numerous specific objective facts to determine
whether a domicile has been established; these facts include:
location of employment; home ownership and ownership of other
real property; location of one's household furnishings;
registration and title to one's automobiles; driver's
licensing; voter registration; payment for utilities;
banking; acquiring a telephone number and listing it;
receiving mail; and establishing membership in local
professional, civic, religious, or social organizations.
Audi Performance & Racing, LLC v. Kasberger, 273
F, Supp. 2d 1220, 1226 (M.D, Ala. 2003) (internal quotations
omitted). Importantly, the Court must consider these facts in
order to determine the individual's citizenship at the
time of removal. Thermoset Corp. v. Bldg. Materials Corp
of Am., 849 F.3d 1313, 1317 (11th Cir. 2017).
CITIZENSHIP OF JAMES MAIER
reviewing the notice of removal in this case, the Eleventh
Circuit found that Defendants failed to properly allege the
citizenship of Karine Maier because Defendants had not
provided any allegation as to Decedent James Maier's
citizenship at the time of his death. (Doc. 337 at 2.) In
this Circuit, it is well established that "[w]here an
estate is a party, the citizenship that counts for diversity
purposes is that of the decedent, and [the decedent] is
deemed to be a citizen of the state in which [ ] he was
domiciled at the time of [his] death." King v.
Cessna Aircraft Co., 505 F.3d 1160, 1170 (11th Cir.
2007). Accordingly, Defendants must ...