Mas v. Perry
489 F.2d 1396 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 842 (1974)
Mas, a French citizen was
married to a woman from Mississippi. They were married in Mississippi and
then they moved to Louisiana for college. While they were living in
Louisiana, Mas discovered that a guy named Perry had been peeping on them
through two-way mirrors in the apartment they were renting from him.
What a creep.
Mas sued for $100k in Federal
Court and won (only $5k) on the merits.
During the trial, Perry
objected to the Court's subject matter jurisdiction, claiming there was no diversity between the parties.
The Federal Trial Court found
for Mas. Perry appealed.
Perry argued that since he
lived in Louisiana, and Mas and his wife also both lived in Louisiana,
there was no diversity jurisdiction,
so a Federal court shouldn't be allowed to hear the case.
The Federal Appellate Court
The Federal Appellate court
found that there was subject matter jurisdiction, based on diversity of citizenship.
The Court noted that Mr. Mas
was still a citizen of France at the time of the filing of the lawsuit
because he had not become a naturalized American citizen.
The Court noted thatthat
Mrs. Mas was domiciled in
Mississippi at the time of the suit. Mrs. Mas lived in Mississippi when
she married Mr. Mas, and her domicile did not change when they moved to Louisiana
because there were not going to be there indefinitely, but only while
they were students.
The Courts have held that,
in general, when you move to a place as a student, your domicile does not change, since you are only intending
on living near the school temporarily.
The Court refused to apply
the general rule that a wife is domiciled where her husband is domiciled to the case where an American woman marries a
foreign man. The court looked to 8 U.S.C. § 1489, which
says that an American woman does not lose her citizenship if she marries
a foreign man.
If it were the other way
around, where the woman was foreign, this argument would not have
Perry also unsuccessfully
argued that Federal jurisdiction only applies in cases worth more than
$10k (see 28 USC § 1332), and
Mas only won $5k. However, the Court found that since they in good faith
sued for more than $10k, they got jurisdiction regardless of what the
final payout was.
Btw, the limit under §1332
has since been raised to $75k.