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.
- 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 affirmed.
- 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 worked.
- 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.