LAW 521-002 – Civil Procedure I

Diversity Jurisdiction


Diversity jurisdiction has two basic requirements:

  1. Complete Diversity
  2. Amount in controversy

Diversity jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1332:

  1. The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between—
    1. citizens of different States;
    2. citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a foreign state, except that the district courts shall not have original jurisdiction under this subsection of an action between citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of a foreign state who are lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States and are domiciled in the same State;
    3. citizens of different States and in which citizens or subjects of a foreign state are additional parties; and
    4. a foreign state, defined in section 1603(a) of this title, as plaintiff and citizens of a State or of different States.

If foreigners are on both sides, an American is needed on both sides.

Must have complete diversity at the time of the complaint.

Complete Diversity

To have complete diversity, no defendant can be of the same domicile as any plaintiff. Strawbridge v. Curtis.

A corporation's domicile is based off their place of incorporation and their principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c). This is the same as for personal jurisdiction.

An exception is class actions. If the class action is for over $5 million only a minimal diversity is needed. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). This means that only any plaintiff has to be from a different state than any defendant. An exception to this exception is if between one-third and two-thirds of the plaintiffs and the primary defendant are both from the forum state, in which case the court may still deny such a class action. 18 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(3)

Amount in Controversy

For diversity, the amount in controversy that the plaintiff reasonably expects to receive must exceed $75,000.

Interest and attorney fees are excluded unless they are part of the cause of action. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)

Defendant can contest the amount for diversity only if there is no legally possible recovery exceeding $75,000.

When plaintiff seeks non-monetary relief, there are three ways to determine the amount in controversy. The value to plaintiff, defendant, or the one seeking diversity.

A single plaintiff can aggregate all his various claims against a single defendant. Two plaintiffs may aggregate their claims unless they are separate and distinct.

In a class action, at least one person must be over $75,000.

Class actions have special rules if they are over $5 million. Then they do not need anyone with over $75k and only need minimal diversity. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(A)