United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, pro se plaintiff Ronald Armbrester asserts
state law claims for conspiracy, fraud, and breach of
contract against a number of defendants. Mr. Armbrester
contends that the defendants did not compensate him for a
fire loss pursuant to the terms of a homeowner's
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the defendants
ask the Court to dismiss this action. (Doc.
The defendants argue that this federal district court lacks
jurisdiction over Mr. Armbrester's state law claims. The
defendants attached to their motion information to supplement
the jurisdictional information in the amended complaint.
Therefore, the Court notified the parties that it would
convert the Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss into a Rule 56
motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 37). The Court gave Mr.
Armbrester time to respond, and on September 11, 2017, Mr.
Armbrester filed an “Answer to Summary Judgment.”
reviewing the defendants' arguments and Mr.
Armbrester's response, the Court concluded that it did
not have sufficient information to determine whether it has
subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Armbrester's state
law claims. Therefore, on September 20, 2017, the Court
issued a show cause order and asked Mr. Armbrester to please
file an affidavit containing information from which the Court
could examine Mr. Armbrester's citizenship. (Doc. 44).
Mr. Armbrester complied with the Court's order. (Doc.
Having considered the entire record in this case, the Court
finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Mr.
Armbrester's state law claims. Therefore, the Court must
dismiss this action because a federal court has no authority
to proceed in the absence of subject matter jurisdiction.
Mr. Armbrester decided to purchase a homeowner's
insurance policy for his house in Talladega, Alabama, Mr.
Armbrester contacted Phillips Insurance Agency. (Doc. 13, p.
An agent from Phillips Insurance Agency referred Mr.
Armbrester to defendant Burns & Wilcox, Ltd. for an
insurance policy quote. (Doc. 13, p. 3). On February 15,
2008, defendant Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London
issued Policy No. 340698 to insure Mr. Armbrester's house
for one year. (Doc. 13, p. 18; see also Doc. 20-4).
On February 25, 2008, Mr. Armbrester's house burned and
was a total loss. (Doc. 13, pp. 3, 24). The fire marshal
concluded that the fire was accidental. (Doc. 13, p. 4). Mr.
Armbrester filed a proof of loss with Lloyd's of London
and sought $357, 600.00 under the insurance policy. (Doc. 13,
pp. 3, 24-25). To date, Lloyd's of London has not paid
the claim. (Doc. 13, p. 4). Mr. Armbrester is pursuing his
state law claims in this lawsuit to try to obtain the policy
proceeds for the fire loss. (Doc. 13, p. 8).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, ” and they
may not act outside of their statutory subject matter
jurisdiction. Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999). When a federal court acts
outside of its statutory subject matter jurisdiction, it
“unconstitutionally invades the powers reserved to the
states to determine controversies in their own courts.”
Univ. of S. Ala., 168 F.3d at 410. The statutory
basis for subject matter jurisdiction in this action is 28
U.S.C. § 1332. A district court may exercise jurisdiction
over state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 if the
parties are citizens of different states, and the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, a private individual is a
citizen of the state in which he is domiciled. Travaglio
v. Am. Exp. Co., 735 F.3d 1266, 1269 (11th Cir. 2013)
(stating that domicile requires both residence in a state and
an intention to remain there indefinitely). When Mr.
Armbrester filed this action in October 2015, he was
incarcerated in an Alabama state prison. (See Doc.
1, p. 6; Doc. 2, p. 1). A prisoner's place of incarceration
does not determine citizenship. Polakoff v.
Henderson, 370 F.Supp. 690, 693 (N.D.Ga. 1973),
aff'd, 488 F.2d 977 (5th Cir.
1974). “A prisoner's citizenship is
determined by his domicile prior to incarceration.”
Jones v. Law Firm of Hill & Ponton, 141
F.Supp.2d 1349, 1355-56 (M.D. Fla. 2001) (citing
Polakoff, 370 F.Supp. at 693); see also
Denlinger v. Brennan, 87 F.3d 214, 216 (7th Cir.1996)
(“[T]he domicile of [a] prisoner before he was
imprisoned is presumed to remain his domicile while he is in
he was incarcerated, Mr. Armbrester lived in a house in
Talladega County, Alabama from 2000 until it burned in 2008.
(Doc. 47, p. 1, ¶ 2; Doc. 47, p. 2, ¶ 4). Mr.
Armbrester owned real property in Alabama, and his home
furnishings remain in Alabama. (Doc. 47, p. 2, ¶¶
6-7). Mr. Armbrester had an Alabama driver's license, and
his vehicles were registered in Talladega County, Alabama.
(Doc. 47, p. 2, ¶¶ 8-9). Mr. Armbrester received
mail at Alabama addresses; Mr. Armbrester had bank accounts
in Alabama; Mr. Armbrester had Alabama telephone numbers; and
Mr. Armbrester paid utility bills in Alabama. (Doc. 47, p. 2,
¶¶ 10-14). Based on these facts, the Court finds
that Mr. Armbrester was domiciled in Alabama when he filed
this lawsuit. See McCormick v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d
1254, 1257-58 (11th Cir. 2002) (“A 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 absent therefrom.”)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Lee v.
Airwalk Alabama, LLC, 2013 WL 4482613 at *3 (N.D. Ala.
Aug. 19, 2013) (a court may consider location of home
ownership and other real property; location of home
furnishings; location of vehicle registration and
driver's licensing; and location of bank accounts and
payment of utilities to determine whether an individual has
established a domicile).
purposes of diversity jurisdiction, the defendant that Mr.
Armbrester has identified as Lloyd's of London Insurance
Underwriters, an insurance syndicate, is a citizen of any
state of which a member of the syndicate is a citizen.
Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v.
Osting-Schwinn, 613 F.3d 1079, 1088 (11th Cir. 2010)
(Lloyd's syndicates “are classic examples of
unincorporated associations, ” and are citizens of the
states of “each of their member
Names.”). In this case, at least one of the members
of the Lloyd's syndicate that insured Mr.
Armbrester's property, Remember Baker Corporation, was a
citizen of Alabama when Mr. Armbrester filed his complaint.
(Doc. 40-1, ¶ 10). A corporation is a citizen of both
the state of its incorporation and the state where it has its
principal place of business. See 28 U.S.C. §
1332(c)(1); see also Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S.
77, 92-93 (2010) (stating that a corporation's principal
place of business is the place where a corporation's
officers direct, control, and coordinate the
corporation's activities-that is, the corporation's
“headquarters” or “nerve center”).
Remember Baker Corporation is incorporated under the laws of
Delaware, and Remember Baker Corporation has its principal
place of business in Birmingham, Alabama. (Doc. 40-1, ¶
8). Therefore, Remember Baker Corporation is a citizen of
Mr. Armbrester and the Lloyd's defendant both are
citizens of Alabama, the parties are not completely diverse,
and the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over
Mr. Armbrester's state law claims. See Triggs v. John
Crump Toyota, Inc., 154 F.3d 1284, 1287 (11th Cir. 1998)
(“Diversity jurisdiction requires complete diversity;
every plaintiff must be diverse from every
defendant.”). Therefore, the Court must dismiss this
action. See Morrison v. Allstate Indem. Co., 228
F.3d 1255, 1265 (11th Cir. 2000). (“[F]ederal courts
are empowered to hear only cases for which there has been a
congressional grant of jurisdiction, and once a court
determines that there has been no grant that covers a
particular case, the court's sole remaining act is to
dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.”). If Mr.
Armbrester wishes to pursue his claims against the
defendants, he must file his claims in state court.
reasons stated above, the Court does not have subject matter
jurisdiction over Mr. Armbrester's state law claims. The