United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
March 8, 2017, Plaintiff Motorists Mutual Insurance Company
filed a complaint against Defendants Elite Home Products,
LLC; Mega Lion, Inc.; and John Doe Manufacturer, alleging
that this Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332. (DE 1). As the party seeking to invoke
federal diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff bears the burden of
demonstrating that the requirement of complete diversity has
been met. Chase v. Shop'n Save Warehouse Foods,
Inc., 110 F.3d 424, 427 (7th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff's
allegations concerning the citizenship of the parties,
however, are insufficient to establish diversity
with respect to Plaintiff Motorists Mutual Insurance Company,
corporations “are deemed to be citizens of the state in
which they are incorporated and the state in which
they have their principal place of business.” N.
Trust Co. v. Bunge Corp., 899 F.2d 591, 594 (7th Cir.
1990) (emphasis added) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1)).
Here, the complaint recites that Plaintiff has its principal
place of business in Ohio, but it does not allege the state
in which Plaintiff is incorporated.
as to Defendant Elite Home Products, LLC, the complaint
alleges that it is a Louisiana corporation. (DE 1 ¶ 4).
But Elite Home Products, LLC's name suggests that it is a
limited liability company (“LLC”), rather than a
corporation. An LLC's citizenship “for purposes of
. . . diversity jurisdiction is the citizenship of its
members.” Cosgrove v. Bartolotta, 150 F.3d
729, 731 (7th Cir. 1998). Therefore, the Court must be
advised of the name and citizenship of each of the member of
Elite Home Products, LLC, to ensure that none of the members
share a common citizenship with Plaintiff. Hicklin
Eng'g, L.C. v. Bartell, 439 F.3d 346, 347 (7th Cir.
2006). Such citizenship must be “traced through
multiple levels” for those members of Elite Home
Products, LLC, who are a partnership or a limited liability
company, as anything less can result in a dismissal for want
of jurisdiction. Mut. Assignment & Indem. Co. v.
Lind-Waldock & Co., LLC, 364 F.3d 858, 861 (7th Cir.
the allegations in the complaint concerning citizenship of
Defendants are premised upon information and belief. (DE 1
¶¶ 4-6). But “[a]llegations of federal
subject matter jurisdiction may not be made on the basis of
information and belief, only personal knowledge.”
Yount v. Shashek, No. Civ. 06-753-GPM, 2006 WL
4017975, at *10 n.1 (S.D. Ill.Dec. 7, 2006) (citing
Am.'s Best Inns, Inc. v. Best Inns of Abilene,
L.P., 980 F.2d 1072, 1074 (7th Cir. 1992)); see
Ferolie Corp. v. Advantage Sales & Mktg., LLC, No.
04 C 5425, 2004 WL 2433114, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 2004).
as to Defendant John Doe Manufacturer, “the existence
of diversity jurisdiction cannot be determined without
knowledge of every defendant's place of
citizenship.” Howell v. Tribune Entm't
Co., 106 F.3d 215, 218 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations
omitted); see also Schwarz v. Midwest Airlines,
Inc., No. 09-CV-668, 2009 WL 2224890, at *1 (E.D. Wis.
July 23, 2009); Willis v. Rose Art, Inc., No.
3:07-cv-192, 2007 WL 1280586, at *1 (N.D. Ind. Apr. 30,
2007). Because diversity jurisdiction must be
“proved” by a plaintiff rather “than
assumed as a default, ” a court cannot presume that a
“John Doe” defendant is diverse with respect to a
plaintiff. Moore v. Gen. Motors Pension Plans, 91
F.3d 848, 850 (7th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).
Accordingly, “John Doe” defendants are ordinarily
not allowed in federal diversity suits. Moore, 91
F.3d at 850; Schwarz, 2009 WL 2224890, at *1;
Willis, 2007 WL 1280586, at *1.
are, however, limited exceptions to this rule. For example,
when the “John Does” are “mere nominal
parties” who have no interest in the action, their
presence does not affect diversity jurisdiction.
Moore, 91 F.3d at 850; U.S. Fire Ins. Co., Inc.
v. Charter Fin. Group, Inc., 851 F.2d 957, 959 n.3 (7th
Cir. 1988) (collecting cases); Schwarz, 2009 WL
2224890, at *1; Willis, 2007 WL 1280586, at *1.
However, if “John Does” are “actual
entities, not merely possible entities that may be
discovered, ” and a plaintiff seeks relief against
them, they “have a legal interest in th[e] action as
they are being directly sued” and thus their
citizenship must be proved by the plaintiff.
Schwarz, 2009 WL 2224890, at *1; see also
Willis, 2007 WL 1280586, at *1.
Plaintiff is granted to and including March 23, 2017, to file
an amended complaint that properly ...