Federal Diversity Jurisdiction for Review of Administrative Decisions

Under the federal jurisdictional statute, the district court have diversity jurisdiction over civil actions between citizens of different states.[i] However, this does not enable the court to hear an appeal from a state administrative agency.

When the proceeding has reached the stage of a perfected appeal and the jurisdiction of the state district court is invoked, it becomes a civil action.  However, it is subject to removal of the proceeding to a federal district court.[ii] Federal district courts are courts of original jurisdiction and, thus, cannot review on appeal findings of state agencies.[iii]

The three requisites wherein the U.S. district courts has original jurisdiction are:[iv]

  • the controversy is a civil action,
  • diversity of citizenship and
  • the amount in controversy exceeding $ 3,000.

However, in Trapp v. Goetz, 373 F.2d 380, 383 (10th Cir. Kan. 1966), the court held that the presence of diversity of citizenship and of the requisite amount in controversy is not always sufficient to provide jurisdiction to a U.S. district court where the proceedings originate in the administrative or judicial acts of a state.  The court further held that an appeal from a state administrative board is not a civil action.

In US Fax Law Ctr., Inc. v. Ihire, Inc., 476 F.3d 1112 (10th Cir. Colo. 2007), the court held that diversity jurisdiction is available for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims, since there is no express congressional intent to preempt diversity jurisdiction, and the diversity jurisdiction statute.  The court further held that the TCPA are not irreconcilable and Congress did not intend to preclude federal diversity jurisdiction over TCPA claims.

[i] 28 USCS § 1332

[ii] Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co. v. Stude, 346 U.S. 574 (U.S. 1954)

[iii] Fairfax County Redevelopment & Hous. Auth. v. W. M. Schlosser Co., 64 F.3d 155 (4th Cir. Va. 1995)

[iv] Range Oil Supply Co. v. Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co., 248 F.2d 477, 479 (8th Cir. Minn. 1957)


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