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What are the 3 considerations when deciding where to bring suit?

  1. Subject matter jurisdiction
  2. Personal jurisdiction
  3. Venue


subject matter jurisdiction (SMJ)

Power for the court to hear a particular dispute based upon the dispute's subject matter



What are the types of subject-matter jurisdiction?

  1. Federal Question Jurisdiction
  2. Diversity Jurisdiction
  3. Supplemental Jurisdiction


federal question jurisdiction

Gives federal courts jurisdiction over all claims "arising under" the Constitution, federal law, or treaties.

28 U.S.C. § 1331


Elements of ​federal question jurisdiction

  1. There is a federal question in dispute; and
  2. Question appears on the face of a well-pleaded complaint

More info: Federal Question Jurisdiction 


What is the well-pleaded complaint rule?

Holds that P must state that D has already violated a federal law on the face of the complaint to qualify as federal question jurisdiction.


⚠️ Note: P can't anticipate that D will violate a federal question in the future; the violation must have already occurred to satisfy the well-pleaded complaint rule.


What is diversity jurisdiction and when does it exist?

Jurisdiction based on the parties' citizenship.

Exists when:

  1. There is complete diversity between parties (no party is a citizen of the same state as the other party); and
  2. Amount in controversy is greater than $75,000

28 U.S.C. § 1332


How is citizenship for diversity jurisdiction determined for:

  1. Persons?
  2. Corporations?



  1. Persons: citizen of the state in which they are domiciled (i.e. where they currently reside and intends to remain indefinitely). Only one domicile allowed.
  2. Corporations: citizen of the state where the company is incorporated and/or maintains its principal place of business. Can be domiciled in 2 states.


Where is a corporation's principal place of business?

The place where the corporation's high-level officers direct, control, and coordinate the corporation's activities, i.e. "the brain/nerve center." Typically the corporate headquarters.


True or False: In a suit between a party and a corporation, the party must be diverse from both the corporation's place of incorporation and principal place of business to satisfy the requirements for diversity jurisdiction.

True. Complete diversity between the place of incorporation and principal place of business must exist to satisfy diversity. 


An unincorporated association is a citizen of which state?

Every state where its members are citizens


When is complete diversity not required for diversity jurisdiction?

In class actions when:

  1. There are more than 100 members in P's class;
  2. The amount in controversy is greater than $5 million; and
  3. Any individual member of the class is diverse from any individual D


Do damages of $75,000 satisfy the amount in controversy?

No, must be greater than $75,000.



Can P aggregate claims to satisfy the amount in controversy?



Is diversity reevaluated when a complaint is amended?

Yes, reevaluated at the time of the amendment.


How is diversity jurisdiction satisfied if the suit involves the death of 75 or more people?

Diversity is satisfied as long as one P is diverse from one D.

28 USC § 1369(b)(1)


supplemental jurisdiction

Power for courts to hear a claim that does not have SMJ as long as the claim is substantially related to one for which SMJ does exist.

28 U.S.C. § 1367


If the court has federal question jurisdiction, how do you determine whether supplemental jurisdiction exists?

Ask: Do the claims arise from the same transaction or occurrence? (i.e. share a "common nucleus of operative fact"?)

If yes, supplemental jurisdiction likely exists.

28 USC § 1367



If the anchor claim is based on diversity, how do you determine whether supplemental jurisdiction exists?


  1. Do the claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence? 
    If yes, proceed to question two:
  2. Is P bringing the claim in order to bring in a new party pursuant to FRCP 14 (third-party plaintiff), 19 (mandatory joinder), 20 (permissive joinder), or 24 (intervention)?
    If yes, proceed to question three:
  3. Will the new party's presence in the lawsuit defeat diversity jurisdiction?

If yes, there is no supplemental jurisdiction.

28 § U.S.C. 1367(b)

⚠️ Remember, this exception only applies when P brings a claim that would add the new party to the suit. The rule exists to prevent P's from skirting the requirements of diversity jurisdiction by joining parties not originally named in the action.



In what circumstances may a court decide not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, even if the requirements are otherwise met?


  1. Claim raises a novel or complex issue of state law;
  2. State law claim substantially predominates;
  3. District court has dismissed all other claims over which it has original jurisdiction; or
  4. In exceptional circumstances, if there are other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction

28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)


removal jurisdiction

Allows federal courts to hear cases that are removed from state court to federal court in the same district where the suit is pending.

28 USC § 1441


When can a case be removed? (generally)

When P could have filed original complaint in federal court.

⚠️ Federal court must have federal question, diversity, or supplemental jurisdiction over all claims


Hypo: P files complaint based on state law. D files answer asserting federal question and seeks to remove to federal court. Should removal be allowed?

No, because of the well-pleaded complaint rule. Federal question jurisdiction cannot be based on the answer - must be asserted on the face of the complaint.


Which parties can seek to remove a case?

Defendants only. P's can never seek to remove, even if the D's filed a counterclaim. 

28 USC § 1441(a)



When is removal based on diversity jurisidiction allowed?

  1. D is not a citizen of the state in which the action was filed;
  2. It is less than a year after filing; and 
  3. Diversity existed at the time of filing and when the notice for removal was filed (unless P dismissed the party who would have destroyed diversity jurisdiction)

28 USC § 1441



What are the special requirements for removal based on federal question?

The well-pleaded complaint rule must be satisfied (i.e. the federal question must be presented on the face of the original complaint).


What is the rule for removal when there are multiple D's?

All D's must agree to removal, or else case must remain in state court.

28 USC §1446(b)(2)(A)



How does a D seek to remove and within what time frame?

File a notice to remove with state and federal court, 30 days after grounds for removal became apparent (i.e. when D was served with process).

28 USC § 1446(b)


If P sues multiple D's, how long do the D's have to remove?

Each D has 30 days from the date they were made aware of the grounds for removal.

28 USC § 1446(b)(2)(B)


What can P do if the removal was improper?

Request remand to state court.