Civil Procedure I, Pages 7–10

Hawkins v. Masters Farms, Inc.

District of Kansas, 2003

Facts:

Defendant drove a tractor into Creal's van, killing him. Creal had lived in Missouri for the majority of his life. In January, eleven months before his death, Creal began spending his nights in Kansas, although he visited his mother's Missouri home daily until March when he moved into his Kansas apartment more permanently and only visited Missouri once a week. Creal brought his personal items to this home and contributed to the bills. At the time of his death, Creal still had insurance and some mail delivered to his Missouri address despite owning and living in a house in Kansas with his wife.

Issue:

Page 9Was Creal a citizen of Kansas when he died?

Whether Mr. Creal was a citizen of the State of Kansas or the State of Missouri at the time of his death is the central dispute currently before the court.

Plaintiff's Argument:

Creal casually thought about moving back to Missouri and still had some connection there, such as some of his insurance and mail. One of the plaintiffs is also from Missouri. Hence the dispute is between residents of two states. This complete diversity gives the court subject matter jurisdiction.

Defendant's Argument:

Creal was a resident of Kansas and so his estate is too a resident of Kansas and has no grounds to sue in federal court.

Rule:

A person is a citizen of the state that he is "domiciled" in.

"Domiciled" means have a physical presence in a place with the intent to remain there.

Reasoning:

Creal lived entirely at his Kansas home at the time of his death, had his personal belongings there, and payed bills there. Although Creal and his wife discussed moving to Missouri, they did not make any actual plans to do so, and did intend to live in Kansas. Hence, Creal was domiciled in Kansas and a citizen thereof.

Holding:

Plaintiffs have not shown that Creal was a citizen of Missouri. Therefore, complete diversity is not shown and the court does not have jurisdiction. Case dismissed.

Takeaway:

To be domiciled in a place, one must have a physical presence there with the intent to remain.

Note:

Citizenship of an estate is solely determined by the citizenship of the deceased, which it follows.

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