Diversity Jurisdiction — National Banking Association Is Citizen of State Where It Is “Located” — I.e., Has Its “Main Office” — Submitting Supplemental Material on Appeal to Establish Subject Matter Jurisdiction OK

Arthur v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 11053 (11th Cir. June 13, 2014):

Fifty-eight individuals (hereinafter, "Appellants") whose homes were in various stages of the foreclosure process brought this action against JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. (hereinafter, "JP Morgan"), seeking damages and injunctive relief based on alleged fraudulent and criminal activity surrounding their foreclosures. Appellants Magdalena Apostolova, Gracie Marla Buchwald, Johnny H. Le, Emil P. Milyakov, Hone Thach, and Linda Zimmerman have previously been dismissed from this appeal. The remaining Appellants challenge the district court's decision to dismiss many of the claims in this action with prejudice.

Before considering whether the district court properly dismissed any of the claims, we examine whether it had subject matter jurisdiction over the action. Concluding that it did, and after a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the district court as modified below.

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III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

We review the existence of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. Weatherly v. Ala. State Univ., 728 F.3d 1263, 1269 (11th Cir. 2013). Subject matter jurisdiction is fundamental to our power to hear and decide cases, and we must raise questions about subject matter jurisdiction ourselves whenever a doubt regarding our jurisdiction arises. Smith v. GTE Corp., 236 F.3d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 2001).

JP Morgan removed this case based on 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), which allows for removal of most civil actions where the district court would have original jurisdiction over the action. We find that we have diversity jurisdiction and thus need not consider whether federal question jurisdiction exists.

Diversity jurisdiction exists if the parties to the action are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The amount in controversy is not in question. Thus, each Appellant must be a citizen of a different state than JP Morgan. 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.").

JP Morgan alleged in its notice of removal that it is a national banking association. A national banking association is a citizen of the state where it is "located." 28 U.S.C. § 1348. For purposes of section 1348, a national bank is located in the place where it is designated to have its main office. Wachovia Bank v. Schmidt, 546 U.S. 303, 318, 126 S.Ct. 941, 952, 163 L.Ed.2d 797 (2006). JP Morgan pleaded  [*10] in its notice of removal that its principal office is located in Columbus, Ohio, and thus it is a citizen of Ohio for diversity purposes. Therefore, the Appellants must all be citizens of states other than Ohio.

Fifty-seven of the Appellants are natural persons, and as such are citizens of the states in which they are domiciled. Mas v. Perry, 489 F.2d 1396, 1399 (5th Cir. 1974). Thus, these Appellants are citizens of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

However, Rena E. Johnston-Farrington is identified in the complaint as "an authorized agent of the Farrington Family Trust." From this statement it appears that Rena E. Johnston-Farrington is suing on behalf of the Farrington Family Trust. However, in some cases a trustee may sue in his or her own name. See Navarro Savings Assoc. v. Lee, 446 U.S. 458, 465, 100 S.Ct. 1779, 1784, 64 L.Ed.2d 425 (1980) (determining that eight  [*11] individual trustees could sue in their individual names).5 This Court ordered supplemental briefing on the citizenship of the Farrington Family Trust. In response, JP Morgan submitted documents indicating that Johnston-Farrington is the sole trustee, settlor, and beneficiary of the trust. She is a citizen of California, and thus the trust is a citizen of California for diversity purposes.6 Therefore, complete diversity exists, and the district court had jurisdiction to consider the case.

5   This Court has recognized that Navarro Savings is a narrow exception to the general rule that unincorporated associations must consider all members of the association in determining citizenship. Riley v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 292 F.3d 1334, 1339-40 (11th Cir. 2002) (overruled on other grounds as recognized in Instituto De Prevision Militar v. Merrill Lynch, 546 F.3d 1340, 1348 (11th Cir. 2008)).

6   Although this Court does not generally consider materials outside the original record before the district court, it has the equitable power to allow parties to supplement the record. See Cabalceta v. Standard Fruit Co., 883 F.2d 1553, 1555 (11th Cir. 1989) (considering supplemental information  [*12] relevant to subject matter jurisdiction).

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