Civil Procedure MBE Tip of the Day
Welcome to our MBE tip of the day series. This “MBE tip of the day” post focuses on civil procedure.
You will see 25 scored civil procedure MBE questions on the Multistate Bar Exam. In this post, we will review a civil procedure question together. Note that we have posted several MBE tips (which you can find links to at the bottom of this post) that focus on a specific multiple-choice question that many students answer incorrectly. If you can master these questions, it could increase your MBE score by that many points if you see any of these issues tested again (which, by the way, you will!). These posts of MBE tips and tricks will not only cover substantive law but also strategy. So each “MBE tip of the day” post covers one highly-tested area of substantive law as well as an important MBE strategy. You can sign up to receive these posts directly to your inbox for the upcoming administration at the bottom of this page.
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MBE Tip of the Day Instructions
Do your best to answer this civil procedure MBE question (before even looking at the answer choices and before looking at the answer below!) Ask yourself: What is the subject? What is the legal issue? What is the rule and analysis? What is the conclusion? Try to answer these beginning questions before even reading the answer choices. Then, uncover the answer as well as read more about our MBE tip of the day.
Show the MBE Question...
Civil Procedure MBE Question
A woman was injured in a car accident when the brakes on her car failed. She wished to sue the manufacturing corporation for products liability in federal court. The woman spends most of the year in State A, where she is registered to vote and has a driver’s license from. However, she also owns a house in State B, where she typically spends 5 months out of the year. She receives mail in State B and participates as an active member of State B’s society, before returning to State A.
The car accident occurred during the first month of her stay in State B. Still planning on eventually returning to State A but finding State B to be more convenient due to the location of the accident, she filed the lawsuit in federal court in State B. Five months later, when she would typically return back to State A, she changed her mind on a whim and decided to relocate permanently to State B.
The manufacturing corporation has many production plants in State A, where a majority of its employees work and where a majority of its cars are produced. The corporation operates one small building in State B, which is considered to be its principal place of business and headquarters, although it is only occupied by the corporation’s three managers who oversee the business operations. The corporation is incorporated in State C.
The corporation files a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Assuming that the amount in controversy requirement is met, what is the most likely outcome?
(A) The motion will be denied, as the woman is domiciled in State B, and the corporation is domiciled in State A and State C only, meaning complete diversity is present.
(B) The motion will be denied, as the woman was domiciled in State A, and the corporation was domiciled in State B and State C only when the case was filed, meaning complete diversity is present.
(C) The motion will be granted, as the woman’s domicile has switched to State B, and the corporation is domiciled in State B and State C only, meaning complete diversity is no longer present.
(D) The motion will be granted, as the woman was domiciled in State A, and the corporation was domiciled in State A, State B, and State C when the case was filed, meaning complete diversity is not present.
Legal Rule and Analysis:
Choose an answer choice that most closely matches your conclusion and explain why the others are incorrect:
Show the Answer to the MBE Question...
Answer to the Civil Procedure MBE Question
Subject: Civil Procedure
Legal Issue: Subject matter jurisdiction and domicile
Legal Rule and Analysis: For complete diversity to be present, no plaintiff can be domiciled in the same state as any defendant. A person is domiciled in her home state, where she intends to stay indefinitely. One’s domicile is where the individual has a true, fixed home and principal establishment and where one intends to eventually return. A person can have more than one residence, but only one true domicile. For jurisdiction purposes, domicile is measured at the time the claim is filed.
A corporation is domiciled in the state in which it is incorporated and in the state where its principal place of business is located. A corporation’s principal place of business is generally deemed to be where its headquarters are, i.e. where the nerve center of the corporation is located and where the control over operations is exerted.
In this case, the woman is domiciled in State A. Although she maintained a residence in State B, she always intended to return home to State A. Even though she changed her mind months later, since she still intended on returning to State A at the time she filed the suit, State A is her domicile for this determination. The manufacturing corporation is incorporated in State C, and its headquarters are located in State B (as this is where the control over the corporation’s operations is centered). This means that the corporation is domiciled in State B and State C only.
Conclusion: Since the woman is domiciled in State A only and the corporation is domiciled in states B and C only, complete diversity is present and the motion should be denied.
Look at the answer choices provided. Choose an answer choice that matches your conclusion. Review the other answer choices provided.
The answer choice (B) is therefore correct. (A) is incorrect because the woman was not domiciled in State B when the claim was filed and the corporation is not domiciled in State A. Just because there are many employees who work at those sites and a majority of the cars are produced there does not mean that that is where the corporation would be domiciled.
(C) is incorrect because domicile for the purpose of jurisdiction is determined at the moment the claim is filed. Since the woman was still intending to return to State A at that time, making that her established home, the woman’s domicile for this suit is State A. (D) is incorrect because the corporation is not domiciled in State A. State A is neither where the corporation is incorporated nor where the corporation’s principal place of business is located, regardless of the fact that a majority of cars are produced there.
MBE Tip: Develop a plan for how you want to handle long questions. On the MBE, you have an average of about 1 minute and 48 seconds to answer each question. However, ones with long fact patterns can take longer than that to read and process. Depending on your pacing, it might be worth it to just select a random answer on your sheet and make some sort of a mark indicating you need to come back to this question at the end. You want to be able to give your best effort to as many questions as possible, and spending too long agonizing over a long (or difficult) question can hinder you in the long run. Always know when it is time to move on!
Show Summary of the Two Key Takeaway Points for the Day
Key Takeaways and MBE Tips From Prior Posts
Takeaway for the Law: For complete diversity to be present, no plaintiff can be domiciled in the same state as any defendant. Domicile for the purposes of diversity is measured at the time the case is filed. Domicile represents a person’s “true home” and a corporation’s place of incorporation and principle place of business.
MBE Tip: Develop a plan for how you handle long questions.
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