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Civil Procedure I
St. Johns University School of Law
Sovern, Jeffery

Dec. 15th Office Hours between 1pm and 4pm
(718) 990-6429

I. Does the Court Have Jurisdiction?
Definition. Authority to speak the law.

A. Subject matter jurisdiction: jurisdiction over the dispute: can we go to federal court?
1. Characteristics.
a) Cannot consent to waive a claim that the court has no SMJ
b) Objection based on its absence can be raised at any time
a. must be pleaded and proved
c) judgment rendered without it is invalid and can be collaterally attacked (subject to exceptions)
2. Diversity jurisdiction
a) Helps to prevent prejudice against outsiders
b) 28 USC §1332: Diversity of citizenship; amount in controversy
a. to have diversity jurisdiction, must sue for more than $75,000
b. requires complete diversity (all of the opposing parties must be from different states)
i. test for diversity when the claim is filed
ii. a subsequent change of citizenship is irrelevant
Strawbridge v Curtiss
c) aggregation of claims
a. if the plaintiff has two claims that together equal the amount in controversy, the claims are allowed
b. two plaintiffs cannot aggregate
c. a plaintiff with a claim under the amount cannot aggregate with a plaintiff with a claim exceeding the amount
d) State citizenship for diversity purposes has two elements
a. US citizenship or admission to permanent residence in the US
b. Domicile in the state
i. Domicile has two components
1. actual presence at one time in the place said to be the domicile
2. state of mind
c. American citizens living abroad have no domicile within the US and can’t be sued in federal court for diversity
d. Resident aliens can sue or be sued under alienage jurisdiction (§1332(a)(2))
e) A corporation’s place of citizenship is where it has its principal place of business (where it performs most of its activities)
a. Nerve center, muscle center
f) For unincorporated associations (partnerships or unions) the citizenship is where every member is a citizen
3. Interpleader
a) joinder of parties, designed to protect a stakeholder from paying twice
a. forces the claimants to bring their claims in the same action and litigate against each other
b) stakeholder pays into the court and lets the court decide
c) need interpleader in federal court because if the claimants are from different states, no one court can take all claimants and the stakeholder might have to pay more than once in different courts
d) sources of federal interpleader
a. §1335: statutory interpleader, contains its own build-in jurisdictional provision
i. must have more than $500 claim
ii. does not give jurisdiction in federal question cases (can’t use if there is no diversity)
iii. only minimal diversity is required
b. Rule 22: Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
i. lacks its own jurisdictional provisions, must find jurisdiction in a statute (§1331, 1332)
ii. must have more than $75,000 claim
iii. provides jurisdiction in federal question cases

Rule 22

Statutory (§1335)


Stakeholder must be diverse from every claimant

1 claimant must be diverse from one other claimant


Must find in statute (§1331, §1332)

Built in jurisdictional provision (diversity only)

Amount in Controversy

Must exceed $75,000

$500 or more


Regular venue rules

Where any claimant resides

Service of Process

Regular service rules

Nationwide service (no personal jurisdiction issue)

Tashire: the court considers on its own motion on whether or not it has complete diversity because §1335(a)(1) says 2 or more adverse claimants need diverse citizenship. The same incident could have spawned multiple lawsuits and the court thinks this is inefficient so it tries to put all the parties into the same case. The ct allows minimum diversity because without it in §1335, there might be no court in which a stakeholder can bring an interpleader action.
4. Federal question (§1331)
a) Citizenship is irrelevant and there is no amount in controversy
b) Well-pleaded complaint rule
a. A claim seeking to find relief in federal court must contain a federal question in the plaintiff’s statement, not alleged as a possible defense of the defendant.
b. The claim has to arise under a federal rule and not the defense
i. Cannot tell at the time the plaintiff files what the defendant will say
ii. The court needs to have jurisdiction from the complaint to compel the defendant to answer
Mottley: Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court alleging an anticipated defense and asserting that the defense was invalid because of a federal provision. The court said that the suggestion of the plaintiff that the defendant will or may set up a claim under federal law does not make the suit one arising under federal law.
c) A motion for declaratory judgment might allow avoi

ilable when any plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any defendant. The claim here was entirely separate from the plaintiff’s original claim, and not logically dependent on it. In addition, the plaintiff brought the nonfederal claim on her own will and she must therefore accept its limitations.
7. Pendent parties
a) If courts have the power to hear claims because of convenience, maybe they have the power to add parties for convenience.
Ex. A plaintiff sues ‘A’ on a federal securities claim in federal court and ‘B’ on a similar state law securities claim in state court.
b) Finley v US (1989) restricted pendent party jurisdiction unless there was a statute allowing it
c) In 1990 Congress passed §1367
a. §1367(a): can add additional parties
b. §1367(b): not certain kinds of additional parties
i. can’t add another nondiverse party within a diversity jurisdiction
ii. can add a nondiverse defendant or a defendant with a claim lower than the jurisdictional amount
c. §1367(c): codifies the discretionary part of Gibbs, when a federal court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
d) The following claims do not require independent jurisdictional grounds
a. Compulsory counterclaims (FRCP 13(a))
b. Joinder of additional parties to compulsory counterclaims (13(h))
c. Impleader of third party defendants (FRCP 14) but only as to claims by and against third party plaintiffs
i. No claims by original plaintiff against third party defendant if such a claim cannot be sustained on own diversity standard
ii. Claim must be derivative, and not direct
d. Unnamed class action plaintiffs, as long as the named plaintiff meets the amount in controversy requirement
B. Removal (§1441)
1. A case starts in state court, it is removed to federal court (by the defendant or the court).
2. The time to remove is very limited (within 30 days from when the case becomes removable)
3. Some federal question cases are not removable.
4. Civil rights cases have special removal rules
a) Federal govt has a special interest in civil rights
5. If a plaintiff feels the case was wrongly removed, the plaintiff can make a motion to remand
a) Mandatory remand: if the statutory requirements for removal are not met, the federal judge must remand