United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division
ORDER AND OPINION
BRAMLETTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court, on its own motion, addresses its subject-matter
jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, the Court orders
the parties to brief the question whether the jurisdictional
spoiler, Texas Eastern Transmission, LP, is a dispensable
party the Court may drop from this action under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 21 and Newman-Green, Inc. v.
Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826 (1989).
Jackson says he developed a rare form of cancer called
chondrosarcoma because his former employer, Texas Eastern
Transmission Corporation, exposed him to
Monsanto-manufactured products containing polychlorinated
the Court's diversity jurisdiction, Jackson sued Texas
Eastern Transmission Corporation, Monsanto Company, and the
corporate successors of each. See Doc. 2.
is a Mississippi citizen. See Doc. 2, ¶1. His complaint
alleges that no defendant shares his Mississippi citizenship.
See Doc. 2, ¶¶1-10. But in a pending motion, Texas
Eastern Transmission, LP, corporate successor of Texas
Eastern Transmission Corporation, asserts that it is a
Mississippi citizen. See Docs. 18, 19. Texas Eastern points to
its Mississippi citizenship and moves the Court to dismiss it
from this action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. See
support of its motion, Texas Eastern marshals an improper
joinder opinion. See Int'l Energy Ventures Mgmt.,
L.L.C. v. United Energy Grp., Ltd., 818 F.3d 193 (5th
Cir. 2016). But this case is not about improper joinder, and
this Court's jurisdiction was not invoked by the removal
statute. See Doc. 1, ¶15; 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
Eastern dwells on the improper joinder standard for
non-merits dismissal of a defendant against whom the
plaintiff has no possibility of recovering. And in so doing,
Texas Eastern misses the antecedent jurisdictional question:
Subject-matter jurisdiction over an action filed in a federal
court that in fact lacked jurisdiction.
Int'l Energy, a Texas consultant firm sued a
Texas-citizen broker and a Chinese company in Texas state
court. 818 F.3d at 198. The defendants removed on the basis
of diversity, contending the non-diverse broker was
improperly joined to defeat jurisdiction. Id. The
plaintiff moved to remand. Id. The district court
denied remand, concluded the non-diverse broker was
improperly joined, and dismissed, under Rule 12(b)(6), the
plaintiff's claims against the broker. Id. at
199. The plaintiff appealed. Id.
appeal, a Fifth Circuit panel affirmed the district
court's denial of remand but reversed its Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal of the nondiverse, improperly joined broker.
Id. at 213. The court emphasized that “the
only ground for dismissing any improperly joined, nondiverse
party is lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.”
Id. at 211. For a court cannot adjudicate the merits
of a claim against a party over whom it lacks jurisdiction.
Eastern's citizenship presents a different problem than
the one addressed in Int'l Energy. That case was removed;
this one was not. There, jurisdiction was measured as of
removal; here, it is measured as of Jackson's filing of
the complaint. In sum, if Texas Eastern is a Mississippi
citizen, then the Court not only lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction over Texas Eastern, the Court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction over this entire action.
Court has subject-matter jurisdiction of suits between
parties of diverse citizenship and in which more than $75,