Life Insurance Lawyers – Where Is The Proper Place To File A Lawsuit

For life insurance attorneys the topic here is not usually a concern.  However, it will be occasionally and the lawyers need to know about it.  This is a 2023 opinion from the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.  The opinion is styled, Lew McGinnis v. Nationwide Life & Annuity Insurance Co.
This a life insurance case that was filed in Texas.  McGinnis asserted that he was a citizen of Texas.  Nationwide filed a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss contending, inter alia, that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because MGinnis was an Oklahoma citizen when the lawsuit was filed.
To establish his Texas citizenship on the date he filed suit, McGinnis must demonstrate that he resided in Texas on that date and intended to continuing residing in Texas.  The relevant factors include the places where the litigant exercises civil and political rights, pays taxes, owns real and personal property, has driver’s and other licenses, maintains bank accounts, belongs to clubs and churches, has places of business or employment, and maintains a home for his family.
McGinnis filed a brief, a declaration, and other evidence.  He avers that, in 2017, he became a “full-time citizen of Texas”; obtained a Texas driver license in 2018; is a registered voter and voted in several elections; it “was and has been [his] intent to make [his] residence in Texas [his] home”; and he intends to “remain domiciled in Texas.”  He also submitted a copy of a lease extension agreement for a residence in Dallas, Texas from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021, although only the lessor’s signature is visible and legible; a Texas vehicle title issued to McGinnis listing a P.O. Box in Dallas, Texas; an energy bill for the Dallas, Texas residence; and a copy of McGinnis’ Texas driver license issued in March 2018.
Nationwide argues that McGinnis’ declaration is ambiguous and deficient in that he does not state that he was residing in Texas at the time he filed suit; he does not state that he voted in elections in Texas, and his voter registration appears to have expired; the lease extension agreement appears to be unsigned by McGinnis or his wife, and McGinnis does not state that he lives at this address; his car registration and a check reflect a P.O. Box instead of a residence; his utility bill amount is inconsistent with the premises being used as a primary residence; and McGinnis did not address Nationwide’s substantial evidence of his business operations, property ownership, bank accounts, and personal ties to Oklahoma.
McGinnis, as the party seeking to establish this court’s subject matter jurisdiction, has not met his burden to submit facts and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that this court has diversity jurisdiction.  Despite a fair opportunity to do so, McGinnis has not adduced evidence that he was a citizen of Texas when he filed this lawsuit. He avers instead only that he became a “full-time citizen” of Texas in 2017.  And he has failed to controvert Nationwide’s evidence of his substantial property ownership, personal connections, and business ownership in Oklahoma, and that he listed an Oklahoma residence and P.O. Box as return addresses in 2020.
For the reasons explained, the court grants Nationwide’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and dismisses this action without prejudice.
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