United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BRETT D. MCDONALD, Plaintiff,
BORA GURSON, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
L. ROBART United States District Judge
the court is Plaintiff Brett D. McDonald's response to
the court's order to show cause why this case should not
be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Resp.
to OSC (Dkt. # 8); see also McDonald Decl. (Dkt. #
8-1); OSC (Dkt. # 5).) Because Mr. McDonald's response
inadequately demonstrates the court's subject matter
jurisdiction, the court dismisses this matter without
BACKGROUND & ANALYSIS
Procedural and Factual Background
April 19, 2017, Mr. McDonald, who is proceeding pro
se, filed this lawsuit and invoked diversity of
citizenship as the basis for subject matter jurisdiction.
(See Compl. (Dkt. # 1) ¶ 7 (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332).) Mr. McDonald's complaint names as
defendants Bora Gurson, RoxyCar Inc., John Doe LLCs, and John
Doe Corporations (collectively, “Defendants”).
(Id. at 1.) Mr. McDonald alleges that he is a
resident of Washington, Mr. Gurson is a Hawaii resident, and
RoxyCar is incorporated in Delaware with its principal place
of business in Hawaii. (Id. ¶¶ 4-6.)
However, Mr. McDonald does not allege the domicile of John
Doe LLCs and John Doe Corporations. (See generally
id.) Because Mr. McDonald did not allege the domicile of
John Doe LLCs and John Doe Corporations, the court concluded
that complete diversity between Mr. McDonald and Defendants
was not clear from the face of the complaint. (See
OSC at 2-3 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Medina v. Chas
Roberts Air Conditioning, Inc., No. CV 05-4214-PHX-SMM,
2006 WL 2091665, at *6 (D. Ariz. July 24, 2006)).)
the court ordered Mr. McDonald to show cause within 14 days
of the court's order why his complaint should not be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
(Id. at 3.) The court cautioned Mr. McDonald that
his failure to demonstrate the court's subject matter
jurisdiction would result in the court dismissing this case
without prejudice. (Id.) Mr. McDonald's response
is now before the court. (See Resp. to OSC.)
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
1332 requires complete diversity of citizenship; each of the
plaintiffs must be a citizen of a different state than each
of the defendants.” Morris v. Princess Cruises,
Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001). Although
fictitious defendants are not considered for purposes of
complete diversity in the removal context, see 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b)(1), there is no comparable provision
for diversity jurisdiction more generally, see 28
U.S.C. § 1332; Medina v. Chas Roberts Air
Conditioning, Inc., No. CV 05-4214-PHX-SMM, 2006 WL
2091665, at *6 (D. Ariz. July 24, 2006) (citing Fifty
Assocs. v. Prudential Life Ins. Co. of Am., 446 F.2d
1187, 1191 (9th Cir. 1970)) (“The Ninth Circuit has
rejected naming ‘Doe' defendants in diversity
actions, on the grounds that complete diversity cannot exist
if the identity and citizenship of some defendants (i.e., the
‘Does') are unknown.”). For the purposes of
diversity jurisdiction, a corporation is a citizen of every
state in which it is incorporated and the state that
constitutes the corporation's principal place of
business, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1), and a
limited liability company (“LLC”) is a citizen of
every state in which its members are domiciled, see
Johnson v. Columbia Props. Anchorage, LP, 437 F.3d 894,
899 (9th Cir. 2006). Once the court raises an apparent lack
of subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the
burden of demonstrating the court's subject matter
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. See
Robinson v. United States, 586 F.3d 683, 685 (9th Cir.
2009); see also McCoy v. Colvin, No.
CV-15-003344-PHX-DGC, 2016 WL 6522806, at *1 (D. Ariz. Nov.
response to the court's order, Mr. McDonald states that
Mr. Gurson “owns and controls various LLCs and
corporations, through which he engages in the business of the
company.” (Id. at 2; see also
McDonald Decl. ¶¶ 2-4.) Regarding John Doe LLCs,
Mr. McDonald states that they “are all single-member
LLCs and therefore only citizens of Hawaii”
(id.; see also McDonald Decl. ¶ 4) and
“[a]s single-member LLCs, all John Doe LLCs are
citizens only of Hawaii because [Mr.] Gurson is a citizen of
Hawaii” (Resp. to OSC at 2). Mr. McDonald further
alleges that “[n]o John Doe Corporation is incorporated
in Washington” and they all have their principal places
of business in Hawaii “because [Mr.] Gurson and no one
else, provides the direction, control[, ] and coordination of
the corporations from Hawaii.” (Id.; see
also McDonald Decl. ¶¶ 3, 5.) Based on these
contentions and the facts to which he attests in his
declaration, Mr. McDonald contends that complete diversity
exists. (See Id. Resp. to OSC at 2-3.)
court concludes that Mr. McDonald insufficiently demonstrates
the court's subject matter jurisdiction. Specifically,
for Mr. McDonald's contentions regarding the domicile of
John Doe LLCs to demonstrate the court's subject matter
jurisdiction, the court would have to infer that Mr. Gurson-a
citizen of Hawaii-is the sole member of John Doe LLCs.
See Johnson, 437 F.3d at 899. However, Mr.
McDonald's response and declaration contain insufficient
facts for the court to make that inference. (See
generally Resp. to OSC (failing to state that Mr. Gurson
is the sole member of any of John Doe LLCs); McDonald Decl.
(same).) Although the court could reasonably infer from Mr.
McDonald's allegations that Mr. Gurson is the sole member
of John Doe LLCs, the court could equally plausibly infer
that Mr. Gurson is a manager of John Doe LLCs.
addition, although Mr. McDonald contends that none of John
Doe Corporations are incorporated in Washington, it is not
clear that Hawaii is the principal place of business for John
Doe Corporations simply because Mr. Gurson controls the
corporations from Hawaii. (See Resp. to OSC at 2);
28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). A corporation's principal
place of business is “the place where a
corporation's officers direct, control, and coordinate
the corporation's activities, ” Hertz Corp. v.
Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 92-93 (2010), but Mr.
McDonald's response and declaration contain no facts
showing that Mr. Gurson is an officer of any of the John Doe
Corporations (see generally Resp. to OSC; McDonald
Decl. ¶ 2 (stating only that Mr. Gurson formed another
corporation)). For these reasons, Mr. McDonald fails to
demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that there is
complete diversity between Mr. McDonald and all defendants.
See McCoy, 2016 WL 6522806, at *1. Because Mr.
McDonald fails to establish the court's subject matter
jurisdiction, the court dismisses this case without