Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Complete Diversity Definition:

A jurisdictional requirement of US district courts; that that all persons on one side of the controversy be citizens of different states than all persons on the other side.

A requirement for Federal district courts jurisdiction, a court with limited jurisdiction. According to American constitutional law, jurisdiction has been given to Federal district courts only in (1) cases that raise a federal question and (2) cases in which there is diversity of citizenship among the parties.

In Smart, Justice Ripple of the United States Court of Appeals wrote:

"Turning first to the possibility that the complaint falls within the court's diversity jurisdiction, we note that Mr. Smart, as the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction, bears the burden of demonstrating that the requirements for diversity are met. Specifically, Mr. Smart must establish complete diversity, meaning that no plaintiff may be from the same state as any defendant."

Or these words of Justice Hicks in Harvey v Grey Wolf, of the United States Court of Appeals:

"Complete diversity requires that all persons on one side of the controversy be citizens of different states than all persons on the other side."

Similarly, in BMJ Foods, Justice McGibvern applied the concept to corporate entities:

"Diversity of citizenship exists only when there is complete diversity, that is, when no plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as any defendant.

"For diversity purposes, a corporation is a citizen of both the state where it is incorporated and the state where it has its principal place of business. Once the jurisdictional allegations are challenged, the party asserting diversity has the burden of establishing those allegations with competent proof."


  • BMJ Foods Puerto Rico v. Metromedia Steakhouses, 562 F. Supp. 2d 229 (2008)
  • Harvey v. Grey Wolf Drilling Co., 542 F. 3d 1077 (2008)
  • Smart v. Local 702 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 562 F. 3d 798 (2009)

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