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Coury v. Prot

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Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit (1996) is a civil procedure case holding that to be a citizen of a state within the meaning of the diversity provision; a natural person must be both (1) a citizen of the United States, and (2) a domiciliary of that state. Federal common law, not the law of any state, determines whether a person is a citizen of a particular state for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.

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Contents

Summary of Case Facts

Appellant challenged the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, which entered a jury verdict in favor of appellee US citizen. Appellant claimed lack of jurisdiction under the alien provision because he was a dual citizen of the US and France and was domiciled in France. The property was exempt from turnover and the forced sale under the state constitutional and statutory homestead exemptions lacked jurisdiction.

Issue

Whether a person may assert alienability and diversity of citizenship when filing a claim in order to exempt him from Homestead statutes?

Holding and Law

Yes, but not in this case, as defendant never changed his domicile, and thus was still a citizen of Texas. Diversity has to exist at the time of the filing. Citizenship is based on where domiciled and where a party is a citizen. There was no clear error by the District Court in deciding Prot was domiciled in Texas at the time of the suit, which made diversity and subject matter jurisdiction exist. Prot established domicile in Texas in 1987, moved to France in 1991, but the evidence failed to show change in domicile; he formed an intention to change it but never did. Since Prot's domicile was Texas at the time the suit was filed and removed, while Coury's domicile was California, there was diversity of citizenship.

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