Gordon v. Steele – Case Brief Summary
Summary of Gordon v. Steele, 376 F. Supp. 575 (W.D. Pa. 1974).
Gordon (P) was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania and received medical treatment in Pennsylvania. This lawsuit was brought after Gordon moved to Idaho to attend a Mormon college. She rented an apartment in Idaho and returned to Pennsylvania only for medical treatment and to attend to legal matters.
Gordon filed a diversity suit in federal district court in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Steele (D) moved to dismiss, arguing that there was no diversity because Gordon was domiciled in Pennsylvania.
Is domicile in a given state established for diversity purposes under 28 USC § 1332 when a party rents an apartment in that state, lives in that state at the time suit is brought, expresses a desire not to return to the state of former domicile, and still holds a drivers license issued by the former state of domicile?
Holding and Rule
Yes. Renting an apartment in another state and desiring to remain there is sufficient to establish domicile in that state for federal diversity jurisdiction purposes.
Statements made by a party reflecting a subjective intent to remain in a state can establish domicile. In determining whether diversity exists, the state of domicile for each party is the state of domicile as of the time the complaint is filed.
Steele’s motion to dismiss denied.
See Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins for a law school civil procedure case brief in which the Supreme Court held that federal courts hearing actions in diversity must apply state common law in addition to statutory law.