United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DISMISSING CASE FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER
CARAM STEE, H UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed this case in federal district court, asserting
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2). The Court
ordered plaintiffs to show cause why the case should not be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction given
plaintiff Nancy Hage's dual citizenship.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511
U.S. 375 (1994). The courts' subject matter jurisdiction
requirement limits it to hearing only those claims which are
authorized by the laws of its jurisdiction. See,
e.g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331; 1332. “If a
court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2) confers original jurisdiction over
cases between “citizens of a State and citizens or
subjects of a foreign state” where the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. Id. The complete
diversity requirement, as articulated in Strawbridge v.
Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267 (1806), applies to §
1332(a)(2). See e.g., Newman-Green, Inc. v.
Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826, 829 (1989); U.S.
Motors v. General Motors Europe, 551 F.3d 420, 423 (6th
parties here are not completely diverse. Plaintiff Wessam
Bou-Assaly is a citizen of Lebanon and Canada. Plaintiff Hage
is a citizen of Lebanon and the United States of America.
Both are currently domiciled in the United Arab Emirates. All
four defendants are citizens of the United States of America
domiciled in Michigan. Thus, Hage's United States
citizenship destroys complete diversity.
relies on Aguirre v. Nagel, 270 F.Supp. 535 (E.D.
Mich. 1967), for the proposition that a court may choose a
dual citizen's non United States citizenship to satisfy
diversity under § 1332(a)(2). In Aguirre, a
minor plaintiff with dual United States and Mexican
citizenship sued a United States citizen. Id. at
535. The Court recognized jurisdiction, determining that the
plaintiff's Mexican citizenship placed it within the
literal meaning of § 1332(a)(2). Id. at 536.
reliance on Aguirre is misguided. Aguirre
has been heavily criticized and several circuits have
rejected its holding. Molinos Valle Del Cibao, C. por A.
v. Lama, 633 F.3d 1330, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011); Coury
v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 247-48 (5th Cir. 1996);
Mutuelles Unies v. Kroll & Linstrom, 957 F.2d
707, 711 (9th Cir. 1992); Action S.A. v. Marc Rich &
Co., Inc., 951 F.2d 504, 507 (2d Cir. 1991); Sadat
v. Mertes, 615 F.2d 1176, 1187 (7th Cir. 1980).
Aguirre is inconsistent with the complete diversity
requirement. These dual citizenship cases do not fall under
the statute's intended purpose of providing
“protective jurisdiction over matters implicating
international relations where the national interest was
paramount.” Sadat, 615 F.2d at 1182. Further,
Aguirre gives dual citizens an unfair advantage over
solely United States citizens. Sadat v. Mertes, 464
F.Supp. 1311, 1313 (E.D. Wis. 1979), aff'd, 615
F.2d 1176 (7th Cir. 1980).
courts approach questions of dual citizenship under §
1332(a)(2) by selecting one citizenship for the purpose of
diversity rather than applying multiple citizenships
simultaneously. See e.g., Sadat, 615 F.2d
at 1187. Ordinarily, “only the American nationality of
the dual citizen should be recognized under 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a).” Id. However, a United States citizen
may assert that their foreign citizenship is dominant and
must be applied when analyzing diversity. Id. There
is no singular test to determine dominant citizenship. Courts
have generally focused on the status of a party's
citizenship, specifically whether the party is a naturalized
citizen and whether they have terminated or renounced their
United States citizenship. See e.g., id. at
argues that her United States citizenship is not dominant.
Her argument fails. Hage is a naturalized citizen. Permitting
naturalized citizens “to use their prior nationality
for purposes of diversity would be incompatible with the oath
they took upon becoming citizens, wherein they renounced
allegiance to foreign states or sovereignties.”
Liakakos v. CIGNA Corp., 704 F.Supp. 583, 585 (E.D.
Pa. 1988). There is no evidence that Hage has renounced or
terminated her United States citizenship. Further, contrary
to her counsel's allegations, there is no evidence that
Hage is legally “precluded from returning to and living
in the United States.” (Doc. 28: Plaintiffs'
Response to Court's Show Cause Order, at 7).
Plaintiffs' allege that Bou-Assaly is currently “an
alien who no longer holds a green card and has been deemed
inadmissible in the United States.” (Doc. 1: Complaint,
at 24). But Bou-Assaly's status does not impact
Hage's citizenship or her ability to return to the United
reasons stated above, the Court finds that Hage's dual
citizenship bars subject matter jurisdiction under §
1332(a)(2). Additionally, that Court finds that Hage's
domicile in the United Arab Emirates makes her a stateless
citizen, barring jurisdiction under §§ 1332(a)(1)
and 1332(a)(3). Newman-Green, Inc., 490 U.S. at 826
(“In order to be a citizen of a State within the
meaning of the diversity statute, a natural person must both
be a citizen of the United States and be domiciled
within the State.”).
Complaint includes three counts. The relief sought in each
count specifically states that “Plaintiffs
[Bou-Assaly and Hage] demand judgment against
Defendants in the amount to which they are
entitled.” (Doc. 1; Complaint, at 26, 29) (emphasis
added). Therefore, Hage's status as a stateless, dual
citizen bars subject matter jurisdiction on every count in
this case, and in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3), IT
IS ORDERED that this case is dismissed without prejudice.
addition to their show cause response, plaintiffs filed a
Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint, seeking leave to
“delete Ms. Hage as a party to proceed only with
Plaintiff Wessam Bou-Assaly's malpractice claims.”
(Doc. 29 at 2). The Court does not have subject matter
jurisdiction over this case permitting it to entertain this
motion, so it shall be dismissed as moot. Madison-Hughes
v. Shalala, 80 F.3d 1121, 1131 (6th Cir. 1996)
(“Because the district court properly dismissed the
case for lack of ...