Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Drafting Statements of Jurisdiction and Venue

Statements of jurisdiction and venue are important parts of complaints (especially in the United States district courts) and appellate briefs. Too many lawyers’ statements of jurisdiction look like this:

This court has jurisdiction over this matter and venue is appropriate in this court. 

That sentence tells the court nothing about whether jurisdiction and venue are proper—it contains no statute or case to support the contention and no facts that would enable the court to determine the truthfulness of the statement.

In the trial courts, the complaint should contain statutes or cases and facts that allow the court to determine whether it has jurisdiction and whether venue is proper. A good statement of jurisdiction and venue in a complaint should look something like this:

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of different states—Plaintiff is a resident of New York and Defendant is a resident of Delaware—and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interests and costs, because Plaintiff is seeking to recover $150,000 from Defendant.

Venue is proper in this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because the Defendant does business in New York, and its registered agent for service is located in New York City, New York, in the Southern District of New York.

In the appellate courts, every appellant’s brief must contain a statement of jurisdiction, and that statement should also include statutes or cases and facts that show the trial court had jurisdiction and the appellate court has jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The facts should include the date on which the order appealed was entered and the date the notice of appeal was filed to show the appeal was timely. An appellate statement of jurisdiction might look something like this:

The district court had jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because Appellant and Appellee are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory minimum of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs. On November 11, 2014, the district court granted Appellee’s motion for full summary judgment and entered judgment for Appellee. On November 24, 2014, Appellant timely filed its notice of appeal in the district court. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A) (civil appeals must be filed within 30 days after entry of the order appealed from).

This Court has jurisdiction over the appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 because an order granting a party’s motion for summary judgment is an appealable final decision. See Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233 (1945) (For purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1291, a final decision is one that “ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment.”). 
Of course, the local rules may require additional information, so check them to ensure completeness.   

Statements of jurisdiction and venue are important. Make sure yours are thorough and accurate!

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