Page v. Democratic National Committee, No. 20-2781 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Page, a former advisor to the Trump Presidential Campaign, sued the Democratic National Committee, a subsidiary DNC Corporation, the Perkins law firm, and two Perkins partners. Page alleged defamation based on news stories published in 2016 concerning contacts between the campaign and Russian officials. Having advanced only violations of state law, and alleging that no defendant is a citizen of his home state of Oklahoma, Page relied on diversity jurisdiction. The district court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed, citing the lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis that Perkins (with a few of its U.S.-based partners working and living abroad) does not qualify as a proper defendant for purposes of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332. Though complete diversity typically hinges on whether any parties on both sides of a lawsuit share citizenship, all parties must fall within the jurisdiction created by the diversity statute. If a party cannot sue or be sued under a provision of the diversity statute, the suit lacks complete diversity. Stateless citizens—because they are not (by definition) a citizen of a state, as section 1332(a) requires—destroy complete diversity just as much as a defendant who shares citizenship with a plaintiff.