Tank v. Chronister
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
160 F.3d 597 (1998)
James B. Tank (plaintiff) filed a wrongful-death lawsuit under Kansas state law in federal court against Dr. Bert Chronister and the board of trustees of Wilson County Hospital (collectively, the medical professionals) (defendants), alleging that their negligence caused the death of his mother, Kathleen Tank. James was a citizen of Wisconsin. The medical professionals and Kathleen’s adult daughter (who was James’s sister) were citizens of Kansas. Kathleen was also a Kansas citizen at the time of her death. James filed the lawsuit in federal court on diversity-jurisdiction grounds because he and the medical professionals held citizenship in different states. The medical professionals moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. The medical professionals argued that under Kansas law, the plaintiff in a wrongful-death lawsuit acts as a legal representative of the decedent’s estate and is considered a citizen of the decedent’s state of residence for jurisdictional purposes. Because Kathleen and the medical professionals were citizens of Kansas, diversity of citizenship did not exist under this theory. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. James moved for reconsideration. The district court reversed its initial ruling, holding instead that those authorized to bring a wrongful-death lawsuit in Kansas act in their individual capacities and for their own benefit, and therefore, their citizenship should be considered for jurisdictional purposes. The medical professionals appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Briscoe, J.)
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