__ U.S. __ (2016), 14-1382, Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Docket Nº:14-1382
Citation:__ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1012, 194 L.Ed.2d 71, 84 U.S.L.W. 4123
Opinion Judge:SOTOMAYOR, J.
Party Name:AMERICOLD REALTY TRUST, PETITIONER v. CONAGRA FOODS, INC., ET AL
Attorney:Michael D. Pospisil, argued the cause for petitioner. John M. Duggan, argued the cause for respondents.
Case Date:March 07, 2016
Court:United States Supreme Court
SUMMARY

Corporate citizens of Delaware, Nebraska, and Illinois, sued Americold, a “real estate investment trust” organized under Maryland law, in a Kansas court. Americold removed the suit based on diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. 1332(a)(1), 1441(b). The federal court accepted jurisdiction and ruled in Americold’s favor. The Tenth Circuit held that the district court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme... (see full summary)

 
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Page __

__ U.S. __ (2016)

136 S.Ct. 1012, 194 L.Ed.2d 71, 84 U.S.L.W. 4123, 26 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 21

AMERICOLD REALTY TRUST, PETITIONER

v.

CONAGRA FOODS, INC., ET AL

No. 14-1382

United States Supreme Court

March 7, 2016

Argued January 19, 2016

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

Affirmed.

SYLLABUS

[136 S.Ct. 1013] [194 L.Ed.2d 73] Respondents, corporate citizens of Delaware, Nebraska, and Illinois, sued petitioner Americold Realty Trust, a " real estate investment trust" organized under Maryland law, in a Kansas court. Americold removed the suit to Federal District Court based on diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § § 1332(a)(1), 1441(b). The District Court accepted jurisdiction and ruled in Americold's favor. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit held that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit. Since Americold was not a corporation, the court reasoned, its citizenship for diversity jurisdiction purposes should be based on the citizenship of its members, which included its shareholders. Because no record of those shareholders' citizenship existed, diversity was not proved.

Held :

For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, Americold's citizenship is based on the citizenship of its members, which include its shareholders. Pp. 2-6.

(a) Historically, the relevant citizens for jurisdictional purposes in a suit involving a " mere legal entity" were that entity's " members," or the " real persons who come into court" in the entity's name. Bank of United States v. Deveaux, 9 U.S. 61, 5 Cranch 61, 86, 91, 3 L.Ed. 38. But for the limited exception [194 L.Ed.2d 74] of jurisdictional citizenship for corporations, see Louisville, C. & C. R. Co. v. Letson, 43 U.S. 497, 2 How. 497, 558, 11 L.Ed. 353, this Court continues to " adhere to [the] oft-repeated rule that diversity jurisdiction in a suit by or against the entity depends on the citizenship of 'all [its] members,'" Carden v. Arkoma Associates, 494 U.S. 185, 195, 110 S.Ct. 1015, 108 L.Ed.2d 157. Applying the rule here, Americold possesses the citizenship of all its members, who, under Maryland law, include its shareholders. See , e.g., Md. Corp. & Assns. Code Ann. § 8-101(c). Pp. 2-4.

(b) Americold argues that anything called a " trust" possesses the citizenship of its trustees alone. Traditionally, a trust was considered a " fiduciary relationship" [136 S.Ct. 1014] between multiple people and could not be haled into court; hence, legal proceedings involving a trust were brought by or against the trustees in their own name, Deveaux, 5 Cranch, at 91, 3 L.Ed. 38. Americold confuses the traditional trust with the variety of unincorporated entities that many States have given the " trust" label. Under Maryland law, the real estate investment trust at issue is treated as a " separate legal entity" that can sue or be sued. § § 8-102(2), 8-301(2). Despite what such an entity calls itself, so long as it is unincorporated, this Court will apply the " oft-repeated rule" that it possesses the citizenship of all its members. Pp. 4-6.

776 F.3d 1175, affirmed.

Michael D. Pospisil, argued the cause for petitioner.

John M. Duggan, argued the cause for respondents.

OPINION

SOTOMAYOR, J.

Federal law permits federal courts to resolve certain nonfederal controversies between " citizens" of different States. This rule is easy enough to...

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