United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
JURISDICTIONAL DISCOVERY AND SETTING BRIEFING SCHEDULE FOR
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
GUIROLA, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is the  Motion for Jurisdictional
Discovery filed by all the defendants to this lawsuit as well
as the  Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and 
Motion to Remand filed by the plaintiff, Jordan Bradford. The
parties have fully briefed the Motion for Jurisdictional
Discovery and Motion to Amend Complaint. The Court stayed
briefing on Bradford's Motion to Remand pending a
decision on whether jurisdictional discovery is warranted.
After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record in
this matter, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the
Motion for Jurisdictional Discovery should be granted.
Briefing concerning Bradford's Motion to Remand will
remain stayed pending jurisdictional discovery.
Bradford's Motion to Amend is taken under advisement
pending a ruling on Bradford's Motion to Remand.
filed this lawsuit in Hancock County Circuit Court, alleging
that the defendant Walter H. Juengling, Jr., sold him a
nine-year annuity issued by Minnesota Life Insurance Co. but
misrepresented that the annuity would be for a term of four
years. When Jordan discovered the alleged misrepresentation,
he requested a refund of the principal and interest. The
defendants Securian Financial Group and Securian Financial
Services, while allegedly acting on behalf of Minnesota Life,
denied Bradford's request. Bradford has filed a request
for rescission of contract and a claim for failure to train
and supervise against Minnesota Life and the Securian
defendants. He filed negligent and intentional
misrepresentation claims against Juengling, and a breach of
contract claim against all defendants.
Complaint, Bradford states that he is a resident of Hancock
County, Mississippi, and Juengling is a resident of Slidell,
Louisiana. Minnesota Life and the Securian defendants are
Minnesota corporations. After Minnesota Life and the Securian
defendants removed the case to this Court, Bradford filed a
Motion to Amend his Complaint to “clarify” that
he is actually a resident of Louisiana, such that diversity
jurisdiction is lacking in this lawsuit. The defendants
opposed the Motion to Amend, providing evidence that
Bradford's address in St. Bernard, Louisiana, is a vacant
lot. The defendants request permission to conduct
jurisdictional discovery if the Court finds that the evidence
of a vacant lot is insufficient to demonstrate that
Bradford's state of domicile is Mississippi.
filed a Motion to Remand, and he opposes the defendants'
request for jurisdictional discovery. He has testified by
affidavit that he was born in Iberville Parish Louisiana, and
he was domiciled at 5928 Hopedale Highway, St. Bernard,
Louisiana, on the date he filed his Complaint and at all
pertinent times throughout this lawsuit. He also states that
he has a Louisiana driver's license, and he is registered
to vote in Louisiana. His vehicle is registered in Louisiana,
and the St. Bernard address is cited as his home address on
his income tax returns. He has served as president of a
Louisiana corporation since 1987. He has health problems, so
he maintains a second home in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to
be closer to his treating physicians and a hospital. He
signed the annuity application at issue in this lawsuit at
his Mississippi home. He does not state whether a dwelling is
located at the Louisiana address he cites as his permanent
home address, but he testifies that it is his intention to
permanently remain a citizen of Louisiana.
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction may be
removed by the defendant or defendants, to the district court
of the United States for the district and division embracing
the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). Original federal diversity jurisdiction
exists “where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum
or value of $75, 000.00 exclusive of interest and costs, and
is between . . . citizens of different States.” 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). After removal, a party may file a
motion for remand, and “[i]f it appears that the
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case
shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). To secure
federal jurisdiction, diversity of citizenship must exist
both at the time when the lawsuit is filed in state court and
at the time of removal to federal court. Coury v.
Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 249 (5th Cir. 1996). The Court cannot
rely on allegations in Bradford's proposed amended
complaint to determine his citizenship but must determine
Bradford's citizenship based on evidence presented by the
parties. See Guerrero v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 181 F.3d 97, 1999 WL 346977 at *2 (5th Cir. May 20,
1999) (“When jurisdiction has been challenged, a mere
allegation of citizenship is insufficient to prove
jurisdiction.”); see also Welsh v. Amer. Sur. Co.
of N.Y., 186 F.2d 16, 17 (5th Cir. 1951) (holding that a
plaintiff's allegation of citizenship is not sufficient
for jurisdictional purposes).
a court should determine whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in the
proceedings, some jurisdictional discovery may be warranted
if the issue of subject matter jurisdiction turns on a
disputed fact.” In re MPF Holdings U.S. LLC,
701 F.3d 449, 457 (5th Cir. 2012) (citing Eckstein Marine
Serv., L.L.C. v. Jackson (In re Eckstein Marine Serv.
L.L.C.), 672 F.3d 310, 319-20 (5th Cir. 2012)).
“[T]he court may receive interrogatories, depositions,
or any combination of the recognized methods of discovery to
help it resolve the jurisdictional issue.” Walk
Haydel & Assocs., Inc. v. Coastal Power Prod. Co.,
517 F.3d 235, 241 (5th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks
omitted). The party seeking jurisdictional discovery bears
the burden of showing its necessity. Freeman v. United
States, 556 F.3d 326, 341 (5th Cir. 2009).
person's domicile is the place of his true, fixed, and
permanent home and principal establishment, and to which he
has the intention of returning whenever he is absent
therefrom.” Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d 1396, 1399
(5th Cir. 1974). “In determining diversity
jurisdiction, the state where someone establishes his
domicile serves a dual function as his state of citizenship.
A person's state of domicile presumptively continues
unless rebutted with sufficient evidence of change. Domicile
requires the demonstration of two factors: residence and the
intention to remain.” Hollinger v. Home State Mut.
Ins. Co., 654 F.3d 564, 571 (5th Cir. 2011).
In determining a litigant's domicile, the court must
address a variety of factors. No. single factor is
determinative. The court should look to all evidence shedding
light on the litigant's intention to establish domicile.
The factors may include the places where the litigant
exercises civil and political rights, pays taxes, owns real
and personal property, has driver's and other licenses,
maintains bank accounts, belongs to clubs and churches, has
places of business or employment, and maintains a home for
his family. . . . A litigant's statement of intent is
relevant to the determination of domicile, but it is entitled
to little weight if it conflicts with the objective facts.
Coury, 85 F.3d at 251. “Mere presence in a new
state-without intent to remain-is insufficient to change
domicile for diversity purposes.” Dos Santos v.
Belmere Ltd. P'ship, 516 Fed.Appx. 401, 403-04 (5th
Cir. 2013) (citing Coury, 85 F.3d at 250).
present case, a fact question exists regarding whether
Bradford's domicile is Louisiana or Mississippi. Bradford
claims Louisiana as his domicile, but the defendants have
produced evidence that no dwelling exists on the property
Bradford cites as his residence in Louisiana. Thus far,
Bradford has not expressly disputed that the property is
vacant. It is unclear how long the property may have been
vacant, whether Bradford intends to build a structure on the
property, or what plans Bradford may have regarding a return
to Louisiana. In addition, Bradford testified by affidavit
that he has been a citizen of Louisiana for more than thirty
years and that he has not had a Mississippi driver's
license or been registered to vote in Mississippi for at
least twenty-five years. This testimony indicates that
Bradford established domicile in Mississippi at some point in
the past, and there is insufficient evidence or testimony
concerning whether Bradford may have since transferred his
domicile to Louisiana through residence and an intention to
remain. See Hollinger, 654 F.3d at 571. As a result,
the Court finds that the defendants should be permitted to
conduct jurisdictional discovery limited to the question of
Bradford's domicile at the time the complaint was filed
and at the time the case was removed to this Court.
defendants are granted ninety days from the date of this
Order to conduct this discovery. The defendants' response
to the Motion to Remand will be due on August 14, 2019, and
Bradford's reply in support of the Motion to Remand will
be due on August 21, 2019. The Court will take Bradford's