599 F.3d 70 (1st Cir. 2010), 09-1354, Hall v. Curran

Docket Nº:09-1354.
Citation:599 F.3d 70
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:Kevin D. HALL, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. John CURRAN, Defendant, Appellee.
Attorney:Kevin D. Hall on brief pro se.
Judge Panel:Before BOUDIN, SELYA and HOWARD, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 24, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 70

599 F.3d 70 (1st Cir. 2010)

Kevin D. HALL, Plaintiff, Appellant,


John CURRAN, Defendant, Appellee.

No. 09-1354.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

March 24, 2010

Submitted Aug. 31, 2009.

Page 71

Kevin D. Hall on brief pro se.

Before BOUDIN, SELYA and HOWARD, Circuit Judges.


Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. A cause of action may be maintained in federal court only if it involves a question of federal law, or if the controversy is between citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332. This pro se prisoner's appeal raises the question of how citizenship of an incarcerated person is determined for diversity jurisdiction purposes under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). We adopt the prevailing test articulated in Smith v. Cummings, 445 F.3d 1254 (10th Cir.2006), and affirm the district court's dismissal of appellant's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Appellant Kevin D. Hall lived in New Hampshire prior to his incarceration. After he was transferred to Sing Sing penitentiary in New York State, Hall filed suit in federal district court against an attorney for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections (" DOC" ). Hall's complaint alleged that this attorney had reneged on a promise in an earlier litigation (initiated when Hall was imprisoned in New Hampshire) to provide Hall with copies of his medical records in exchange for executing the forms that released those records to the attorney.

Hall's complaint alleged only state-law claims for fraud, breach of contract, and tortious interference with beneficial contractual relations, and sought damages of $10 million. The DOC attorney was the sole defendant; he worked and resided in New Hampshire and, for all intents and purposes, was a citizen of that state. No federal question having been alleged, jurisdiction therefore depended on diversity of citizenship and an amount in controversy in excess of $75,000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.

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After completing his initial review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and New Hampshire Local Rule 4.3(d)(2), the magistrate judge recommended that the complaint be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the controversy alleged was not between citizens of different states. Hall timely objected and claimed that he would submit proof of...

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