Construction Law Insights

Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, LLP v. Pride Constr., LLC, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185605, 2020 WL 5947590 (W.D. Va. Oct. 6, 2020)

Gentry Lock Rakes & More, LLP (“Gentry Locke”) brought a state law claim against its former client Pride Construction, LLP (“Pride”) for $130,851.52 in unpaid legal services after representing Pride in an arbitration and insurance claim related to a construction project.

Gentry Locke’s First Amended Complaint alleged that the court had diversity subject matter jurisdiction. To support diversity jurisdiction, Gentry Locke’s First Amended Complaint alleged that Gentry Locke is a limited liability partnership and a Virginia citizen because its partners are citizens and domiciliaries of Virginia. Pride is a limited liability company and Tennessee citizen because its two members are citizens and domiciliary of Tennessee. Pride argued that Gentry Locke’s First Amended Complaint failed to adequately allege subject matter jurisdiction because it did not list the identities of the member(s) of Pride. Unincorporated associations, like partnerships and limited liability companies, are citizens of each state where their partners or members are citizens. A corporation is a citizen of any state by which it has been incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business. A natural person is a citizen of the state in which he or she is domiciled.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) simply requires that the parties’ citizenship be affirmatively and unambiguously alleged in the complaint and the pleader must identify specifically in which state in the United States each party has citizenship. Gentry Locke’s First Amended Complaint claimed complete diversity because it alleged that Gentry Locke is a citizen of Virginia because its partners are citizens and residents of Virginia and Pride is a citizen of Tennessee because it has two members who are both citizens, residents, and domiciliaries of Tennessee.

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