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Morris v. Gilmer

129 U.S. 315, 9 S. Ct. 289, 32 L. Ed. 690 (1889)

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Morris v. Gilmer

United States Supreme Court

129 U.S. 315, 9 S. Ct. 289, 32 L. Ed. 690 (1889)

Facts

In 1884 James N. Gilmer (plaintiff), a citizen of Alabama, sued Josiah Morris and F. M. Billing (defendants), also citizens of Alabama, in Alabama state court over a dispute about stock transfers. The state court dismissed the case with prejudice, holding that it was barred by the statute of limitations. Because the case was dismissed with prejudice, Gilmer could not refile the lawsuit in state court. In 1886 Gilmer, claiming to be a citizen of Tennessee, filed a lawsuit against Morris and Billing in federal district court alleging the same state-law violations he had alleged in state court. Gilmer asserted that diversity jurisdiction existed over the lawsuit because diversity of citizenship existed between him and Morris and Billing. Though Gilmer had moved to Tennessee to file the lawsuit, Morris and Billing presented evidence that Gilmer had moved to Tennessee solely to establish citizenship for diversity-jurisdiction purposes and that Gilmer intended to move back to Alabama permanently. Morris and Billing moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that diversity of citizenship did not exist in the case because Gilmer lacked the sufficient intent to be considered a Tennessee citizen. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss and held in favor of Gilmer. Morris and Billing appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harlan, J.)

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