The Law School Authority

Coury v. Prot Case Brief

Summary of Coury v. Prot, U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit (1996)

Cause of action: The following is a cause of action for breach of K, which results in a cause of action to have the case removed back and forth from federal to state court.

Procedural History: Appellant dual citizen challenged the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, which entered a jury verdict in favor of appellee US citizen in appellee’s action to recover damages for breach of K.  Appellant claimed lack of jurisdiction under the alien provision because he was a dual citizen of the US and France and was domiciled in France and that his property was exempt from turnover and forced sale under the state constitutional and statutory homestead exemptions.

The court affirmed the judgment in favor of appellee US citizen in his action against appellant dual citizen and that ordered a turnover of appellant’s property in satisfaction of the award but remanded for an adjudication of prejudgment interest claim.

Facts: See Procedural history.

Issue(s): Under federal rules of civil procedure, may a person assert alienability and diversity of citizenship when filing a claim in order to exempt himself from Homestead statutes?

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Diversity has to exist at the time of the filing.  Citizenship is based on where domiciled and where a party is a citizen (determined by a myriad of factors). There was no clear error by District Court in deciding Prot  was domiciled in TX at the time of the suit, which made diversity and subject matter jurisdiction exist.  Prot established domicile in TX in 1987, moved to France in 1991, but evidence failed to show change in domicile; he formed an intention to change it but never did.

Since Prot’s domicile was TX at the time the suit was filed and removed, while Coury’s domicile was CA, there was diversity of citizenship.  Prot’s removal was improper b/c DF may not remove a state action to a federal court if a DF is a citizen of the state in which the action is filed.  Court waived this by failing to seek remand within 30 days of the errant filing.  Nonetheless, there was diversity.

Rule: To be a citizen of a state within the meaning of the diversity provision, a natural person must be both (1) a citizen of the United States, and (2) a domiciliary of that state. Federal common law, not the law of any state, determines whether a person is a citizen of a particular state for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.

Holding: Yes, but not in this case, as DF never changed his domicile, and thus was still a citizen of TX and there was subject matter jurisdiction over this cause of action.

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