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Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 9, 2016

HEARTS WITH HAITI, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PAUL KENDRICK, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT JURISDICTIONAL HEARING RECORD

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On February 16, 2016, the First Circuit remanded this case for determination of whether diversity jurisdiction existed at the time of suit. After the Court held a jurisdictional hearing and the parties submitted post-hearing briefs, Mr. Kendrick- the Defendant-moved to supplement the record with one page of a transcript from Mr. Geilenfeld’s-a Plaintiff’s-first deposition taken after the initiation of the lawsuit. The caselaw instructs the Court that it has considerable leeway over what evidence it may consider in the context of a jurisdictional challenge. Given the limited volume and high relevancy of the deposition testimony, which comprises a single page and touches upon how Mr. Geilenfeld perceived his residency status in Haiti, the Court admits the evidence over the Plaintiffs’ objection.

         I. PROCEDURAL POSTURE

         On February 6, 2013, Michael Geilenfeld and Hearts With Haiti (HWH) filed suit in this Court against Paul Kendrick. Compl. (ECF No. 1). The Plaintiffs invoked jurisdiction "pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on diversity of citizenship and because the amount in controversy exceeds Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75, 000)." Id. ¶ 4.

         On July 6, 2015, the jury trial commenced, Tr. of Proceedings I (ECF No. 484), and on July 23, 2015, the jury returned a verdict for the Plaintiffs: the jury awarded $2, 500, 000 on the defamation claim and $5, 000, 000 on the intentional interference claim to HWH, and $7, 000, 000 on the defamation, false light, and intentional interference claims to Mr. Geilenfeld. Jury Verdict Form as to Michael Geilenfeld (ECF No. 474); Jury Verdict Form as to Hearts with Haiti (ECF No. 475); J. (ECF No. 480).

         After the Court denied Mr. Kendrick’s motion for new trial on October 30, 2015, Order on Def.’s Rule 59 Mot. for a New Trial or Alternative Post-J. Relief and Pls.’ Rule 59(e) Mot. to Alter or Amend J. to Include Pre- and Post-J. Interest, to Include the April 22, 2015 Sanction, and to Reflect Dismissal without Prejudice of Pls.’ Punitive Damages Claims (ECF No. 498), Mr. Kendrick filed a notice of appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals on November 18, 2015. Def.’s Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 502).

         On January 8, 2016, while the case was pending in the First Circuit, the Plaintiffs moved to amend the pleadings to show diversity of citizenship. Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick, No. 15-2401, Pls.-Appellees’ Mot. to Amend Pleadings to Show Jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1653 (Doc. No. 00116942397). On January 12, 2016, Mr. Kendrick objected to the Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the pleadings and moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick, No. 15-2401, Def.-Appellant’s Obj./Resp. to "Pls.-Appellees’ Mot. to Amend Pleadings to Show Jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1653" and Def.-Appellant’s Mot. for Affirmative Relief in the Form of Dismissal of the Case on Grounds of Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction (Doc. No. 00116943575). On January 15, 2016, the Plaintiffs responded to Mr. Kendrick’s motion. Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick, No. 15-2401, Pls.-Appellees’ Resp. in Opp’n to Def.-Appellant’s Mot. for Affirmative Relief in the Form of Dismissal of the Case for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and to Def.-Appellant’s Mot. to Stay and to Clarify filed on January 14, 2016 (Doc. No. 00116945980). On January 20, 2016, Mr. Kendrick replied to the Plaintiffs’ response. Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick, No. 15-2401, Def.-Appellant’s Reply to Pls.-Appellees’ Resp. in Opp’n to his Mot. for Affirmative Relief in the Form of Dismissal of the Case for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction (Doc. No. 00116947111).

         On February 16, 2016, the First Circuit remanded to this Court the questions "as to whether the amendment proposed by the appellees should be allowed and as to whether diversity jurisdiction existed at the time the action was commenced." Order of the Ct. (ECF No. 508). On March 30, 2016, the Court held a hearing on the jurisdictional issue. Tr. of Proceedings (ECF No. 532). The Plaintiffs filed their post-hearing brief on April 15, 2016. Pls.’ Post-Hr’g Br. (ECF No. 534) (Pls.’ Br.). Mr. Kendrick filed a response on April 29, 2016, Def.’s Suppl. Br. on Jurisdiction (ECF No. 535), and the Plaintiffs replied on May 6, 2016. Pls.’ Reply Br. in Supp. of Jurisdiction (ECF No. 538) (Pls.’ Post-Hr’g Reply).

         After the post-hearing briefs were filed, on May 20, 2016, Mr. Kendrick moved to add a single page to supplement the record. Def.’s Mot. to Suppl. Jurisdictional Hr’g Ex. D23 with Incorporated Mem. of Law (ECF No. 541) (Def.’s Mot.). The Plaintiffs filed an opposition on May 25, 2016, Pls.’ Resp. in Opp’n to Def.’s Mot. to Suppl. Jurisdictional Hr’g Ex. D23 (ECF No. 544) (Pls.’ Opp’n), and Mr. Kendrick replied on May 27, 2016. Def.’s Reply Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. to Suppl. Jurisdictional Hr’g Ex. D23 (ECF No. 454) (Def.’s Reply).

         II. THE PARTIES’ POSITIONS

         A. Paul Kendrick’s Motion

         Mr. Kendrick says that in their post-hearing reply brief, the Plaintiffs claim that Mr. Geilenfeld never represented himself to be a citizen of or domiciled in Haiti. Def.’s Mot. at 1 (quoting Pls.’ Post-Hr’g Reply at 4). Now, he comes forward with the following back-and-forth from his counsel’s first deposition of Mr. Geilenfeld on February 27, 2014:

Q. And your status in Haiti, is that as a permanent ...

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