United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division
H. MAYS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff Allison Hames's February 15, 2019
Second Motion for Default Judgment as to Jeffrey Cranford.
(ECF No. 38.)
review of the record suggests that the Court may lack
jurisdiction. Within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this
Order, SunTrust Bank and Citibank, N.A. may file an amended
notice of removal that contains facts sufficient to support
federal jurisdiction. If SunTrust Bank and Citibank, N.A.
fail to do so, the case will be remanded to state court under
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) for lack of subject-matter
filed a Complaint against Defendants SunTrust Bank, Citibank,
N.A., and a fictitious party labeled John Doe in the
Tennessee Circuit Court for the Thirtieth Judicial District
at Memphis. (ECF No. 1.) On January 20, 2018, Defendants
SunTrust Bank and Citibank, N.A. removed to this Court on the
basis of diversity. (Id.) On May 21, 2018, Hames
filed an Amended Complaint identifying the fictitious party
as Jeffrey Cran-ford. (ECF No. 20.)
Amended Complaint brings four claims against Defendants: (1)
breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty; (2)
conversion; (3) “fraud and/or misrepresentation”;
and (4) “other reckless and/or negligent actions and/or
omissions”. (ECF No. 20 ¶¶ 18-38.) Hames
seeks $150, 000 in compensatory damages from all Defendants,
and $1, 000, 000 in punitive damages from Cranford.
was properly served on June 26, 2018. (Proof Serv., ECF No.
31-1.) The Summons instructed Cranford to serve an answer on
Hames or her attorney within twenty-one days after service.
(Cranford Summ., ECF No. 30.) Cranford has not filed any
responsive pleading or appeared in this action. On September
10, 2018, Hames filed a Motion for Entry of Default against
Cranford under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). (Mot.
Def., ECF No. 34.) On September 10, 2018, the Clerk en- tered
a Default against Cranford under Rule 55(a). (Clerk's
Ent. Def., ECF No. 34.)
September 11, 2018, Hames moved for Default Judgment as to
Defendant Jeffrey Cranford under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b)(2). (Mot. Def. Judg., ECF No. 36.) The Court
denied Hames's motion because she had not offered
sufficient evidence to support damages. (Order, ECF No. 37.)
The Court had before it only the allegations in the Amended
Complaint and an affidavit of plaintiff's counsel, who
did not purport to have personal knowledge of the facts.
courts must consider their subject-matter jurisdiction in
every case. Answers in Genesis of Ky., Inc. v. Creation
Ministries Int'l, Ltd., 556 F.3d 459, 465 (6th Cir.
2009). Before a court can enter default judgment, it must
establish that it has subject-matter jurisdiction.
See Wright, et al., 10A Fed. Prac. & Proc.
Civ. § 2682 (4th ed.).
February 22, 2018, SunTrust and Citibank filed a Notice of
Removal, removing the case to this Court. (ECF No. 1.) The
Notice of Removal asserts that the Court has diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), making removal
proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). To come within the
Court's diversity jurisdiction: (1) no plaintiff may be a
citizen of the same state as any defendant; and (2) the
amount in controversy must be greater than $75, 000.00. 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1); Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7
U.S. (3 Cranch) 267, 267 (1806) (establishing the requirement
of complete diversity).
is a resident and citizen of Tennessee. (Id. ¶
8.) SunTrust is a citizen of Georgia because it is a Georgia
corporation and has its principal place of business in
Atlanta, Georgia. (Id. ¶ 9; see 28
U.S.C. § 1332(c).) Citibank, N.A. is national banking
association. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 10.) For purposes of
diversity, a national banking association is a citizen of the
“State designated in its articles of association as its
main office.” Wachovia Bank, N.A. v. Schmidt,
546 U.S. 303, 306 (2006) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1348).
Citibank, N.A.'s main office, as designated in its
articles of association, is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
(Id.) Citibank, N.A. is a citizen of South Dakota.
Court cannot determine Cranford's state of citizenship.
When the case was removed to this Court, Cranford was named
in the caption as John Doe, a fictious party. At the time of
removal, federal courts need not consider the citizenship of
fictious parties. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). At
this stage, however, Hames has filed an Amended Complaint
identifying Cranford as the fictious party. “[I]n a
situation such as this where an amended complaint is filed to
include the identity of a previous unidentified defendant,
diversity must be de- termined at the time of the filing of
the amended complaint.” See Curry v. U.S. Bulk
Transp., Inc., 462 F.3d 536, 540 (6th Cir. 2006)
(holding that diversity jurisdiction is lost when a plaintiff
amends the complaint to identify a previously fic-tious
defendant who is nondiverse).
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a person is a citizen of
the state in which he is domiciled. Newman-Green, Inc. v.
Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 828 (1989); Smith v.
Queener, No. 17-5770, 2018 WL 3344176, at *2 (6th Cir.
Jan. 4, 2018). “[D]omicile is established by physical
presence in a place in connection with a certain state of
mind concerning one's intent to remain there.”
Smith, at *2 (quoting Miss. Band of Choctaw
Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989)) (internal
quotations omitted). The Amended Complaint represents that
Cranford “is an individual who undertook actions in
Shelby County, Tennessee involving the Plaintiff, and may be
served with ...