232 F.3d 38 (2nd Cir. 2000), 00-7020, Palazzo v Corio

Docket Nº:Docket No. 00-7020
Citation:232 F.3d 38
Party Name:THOMAS PALAZZO, an infant under the age of Fourteen (14) Years, by his mother and natural Guardian Joyce Delmage, JOYCE DELMAGE, Individually, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. RICHARD J. CORIO, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:November 01, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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232 F.3d 38 (2nd Cir. 2000)

THOMAS PALAZZO, an infant under the age of Fourteen (14) Years, by his mother and natural Guardian Joyce Delmage, JOYCE DELMAGE, Individually, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

RICHARD J. CORIO, Defendant-Appellee.

Docket No. 00-7020

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

November 1, 2000

Argued: October 5, 2000

Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Eugene H. Nickerson, Judge, dismissing complaint for lack of diversity jurisdiction.

Affirmed.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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JOHN P. BOSTANY, New York, New York (Bostany Law Firm, New York, New York, on the brief), argued for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

WEINER, MILLO & MORGAN, New York (Peter M. Agulnick, New York, New York, of counsel), submitted a brief for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: KEARSE, CALABRESI, and SOTOMAYOR, Circuit Judges.

KEARSE, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs Thomas Palazzo, an infant, and his mother Joyce Delmage appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Eugene H. Nickerson, Judge, dismissing their negligence action against defendant Richard J. Corio for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Following an evidentiary hearing before a magistrate judge, the district court found that at the time this action was commenced, Corio, like plaintiffs, was a citizen of New York, and hence diversity of citizenship was lacking. On appeal, Palazzo challenges

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the sufficiency of the evidence to support the finding that Corio was a citizen of New York, contending, inter alia, that there was deposition evidence from Corio and his father establishing that Corio had changed his domicile to Pennsylvania before this action was begun and that the court erred in allowing or crediting contrary evidence at the evidentiary hearing. Finding no merit in plaintiffs' contentions, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In April 1997, Palazzo, a resident and citizen of New York, was struck and permanently disabled by a car driven by Corio. The accident occurred in Staten Island, New York, some five minutes away from the home of Corio's parents. Plaintiffs commenced the present diversity action in December 1997, alleging that Corio was a citizen of Pennsylvania. Corio, contending that he was a citizen of New York, moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court referred the motion to Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann for an evidentiary hearing and Report and Recommendation.

At the hearing, the magistrate judge received, inter alia, deposition testimony of Corio and his father, introduced by plaintiffs, live testimony by Corio, and documentary evidence from each side. There was evidence that Corio, who turned 18 in the fall of 1996, was a citizen of New York, physically residing with his parents until at least March 1997, and that he resumed his physical residence there in February or March 1998. At his deposition, Corio had testified that he "moved" to the home of his grandparents in Pennsylvania in March 1997 because he "just wanted to live there," and that he then registered and insured his car in Pennsylvania and obtained a Pennsylvania driver's license.

At the hearing, Corio testified that he had continually regarded his parents' house as his permanent home and that his March 1997 move to Pennsylvania had been only temporary: "I was still living at home. All my belongings were home, ... and I was just--I just stayed out for a little while with my grandparents." (Hearing Transcript, April 13, 1999 ("Tr."), at 37.) Prior to 1997, he had visited his grandparents about 10 times a year. In March 1997, he had a "disagreement" with his parents over his performance in college, "so my grandparents said I could stay with them a while until everything cooled over with my parents." (Tr. 35.)

While staying with his grandparents, Corio continued to attend church in New York; he continued to attend school in New York, commuting three days a week from Pennsylvania to Staten Island; he paid tuition as an in-state New York resident; he did not file a change of address form with his school or the post office; he did not register to vote in Pennsylvania; he continued to receive school loan disbursements at his parents' house in New York; he had a bank account in New York, but not in Pennsylvania; he had a job in December 1997 in Staten Island; he filed a New York State tax return for 1997; and he received his 1997 tax refund in New York. While Corio was in Pennsylvania, his room at his parents' house remained undisturbed; he had left in his room his stereo, television, VCR, CDs, trophies, clothing, and other personal property. When he went to stay with his grandparents in March 1997, Corio took with him "two pairs of jeans[ and a] bunch of shirts." (Tr. 11.)

The magistrate judge concluded that, though Corio was residing in Pennsylvania at the time the action was commenced, his move to Pennsylvania was only temporary and he had remained domiciled in New York. The magistrate judge thus recommended that the action be dismissed for lack of diversity jurisdiction. In a Memorandum and Order dated November 3, 1999, the district court adopted that recommendation over plaintiffs' objections. Judgment was entered dismissing the complaint,

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and this appeal followed. Finding no basis for reversal, we affirm.

II. DISCUSSION

A party's citizenship for purposes of the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. §1332 (1994), is a mixed question of fact and law. See, e.g., Francis v. Goodman, 81 F.3d 5, 7 (1st Cir. 1996); State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Dyer, 19 F.3d 514, 518 (10th Cir. 1994); Sheehan v. Gustafson, 967 F.2d 1214, 1215 (8th Cir. 1992). The legal components of the question are well established. An individual's citizenship, within the meaning of the diversity statute, is determined by his domicile. See, e.g., Linardos v. Fortuna, 157 F.3d 945, 948 (2d Cir. 1998). Domicile is "the place where a person has his true fixed home and principal establishment, and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning." Id. at 948 (internal quotation marks omitted). At any given time, a person has but...

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