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Tanzymore v. Bethlehem Steel Corp.

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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff attempts to establish domicile in Ohio to satisfy diversity jurisdiction but, even after being given the chance, he fails to do so.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A party must provide more than a naked assertion of the location of his domicile to prove there is diversity for the purpose of diversity jurisdiction. A party is not entitled to a hearing before the court issues a motion to dismiss if the party has had the opportunity to present evidence of the location of his domicile but failed to do so.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

When a question of the court's jurisdiction is raised the court may inquire by affidavits or otherwise, into the facts as they exist.

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Facts.

Plaintiff Tanzymore attempts to sue Defendant Bethlehem Steel Corp. in District Court for personal injuries. Plaintiff claims that diversity jurisdiction is proper because he is a domiciliary of Ohio. However, neither Plaintiff’s deposition testimony nor court filings provided evidence that he is domiciled in Ohio. Rather, the evidence suggested he is domiciled in Pennsylvania.

Issue.

Must a plaintiff be provided with the opportunity to testify in an evidentiary hearing before the court can dismiss his complaint for lack of diversity jurisdiction?

Held.

No, the court may determine diversity without conducting a separate hearing. Judgement of the District Court is affirmed.

Discussion.

  1. When a plaintiff asserts diversity jurisdiction and a defendant moves to dismiss, the plaintiff must provide evidence that supports diversity jurisdiction or the motion to dismiss will be granted, so long as the record reflects the plaintiff’s opportunity to bring forth the evidence.
  2. In determining jurisdictional issues a court is not required to conduct a separate hearing if it is clear from the record that the plaintiff had the chance to present their facts.
  3. Plaintiff Tanyzmore had many opportunities to establish his domicile in Ohio, through cross-examination of his witness during depositions and in his affidavits. Yet the Plaintiff never made more than conclusory statements to support his Ohio domicile.
  4. Even if Plaintiff Tazymore was “stateless”, a person without a domicile state, he would still lose because a plaintiff claiming diversity jurisdiction has the burden of establishing it, and Plaintiff Tazymore did not do so.

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