Problem 1

Peter, a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, worked as a delivery driver in Pennsylvania for Dreadful Express Corp. (DreadEx), which is incorporated and has its corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania. When Peter retired, he bought a second home in Florida, where he spends most of the year, returning to Pennsylvania for the summers. DreadEx owes Peter $80,000 in commissions earned during his final year of work. When the company fails to pay, Peter sues for breach of contract, filing his claim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Does the court have subject-matter jurisdiction?

Problem 2

Pam, a lifelong resident of North Carolina, files a products liability action seeking $150,000 in damages against Danger Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Danger is incorporated in Delaware, has its sole manufacturing & distribution facility is in South Carolina, and its corporate offices (where all significant business decisions are made) in North Carolina.

Does the court have subject-matter jurisdiction?

Problem 3

Tri-State Landscaping, based in Johnson City, Tennessee, is organized as an unincorporated business partnership under Tennessee law. Of Tri-State’s three partners, two are lifelong residents of Tennessee, the other a lifelong resident of North Carolina. The company provides residential and commercial landscaping services in eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and northwestern North Carolina. Pat, a lifelong resident of Virginia, hires Tri-State to maintain the lawn and garden at her Abingdon, Virginia home. Dissatisfied with the work, Pat sues Tri-State for breach of contract, filing the action in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia. As permitted under the applicable state law, Pat names Tri-State itself (not the individual partners) as the sole defendant.

Does the court has subject-matter jurisdiction?

Problem 4

Eleanor (domiciled in the state of Keystone) is employed by Bombco, Inc. (“Bombco”), a munitions manufacturer (incorporated in Delaware with its sole place of business in Keystone). Bombco sells most of its products to the U.S. Defense Department for use by the U.S. military.

During her first six months of work, Eleanor has been paid at the rate of $20/hour. She recently learned that a federal law, the Defense Contractor Wage Fairness Act (“DCWFA”), requires federal defense contractors to pay all employees at a rate no less than the “local prevailing wage” for employees in the same job classification under the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Standard Occupational Classification” (“SOC”) system. Eleanor believes that her job falls within the SOC classification for “Engineering Technicians”, for which the “local prevailing wage” under the DCWFA is $25/hour.

Believing that she has been underpaid, Eleanor decides to sue Bombco for $4800 (representing the alleged underpayment of $5/hour for the 960 hours she worked during the six month period). The DCWFA does not provide for a private right of action for employees who believe they have not been paid at the applicable prevailing wage rate. Instead, Eleanor asserts a claim under the state Wage Payment & Collection Law (“WPCL”), which provides that an employer must pay all wages earned by employees on regularly scheduled paydays. The WPCL also provides than an employee may bring a civil lawsuit to collect any unpaid wages. A plaintiff suing under the WPCL must allege and prove the following:

The Keystone Supreme Court has held that a WPCL plaintiff may satisfy the first requirement by offering evidence of a wage rate imposed by state or federal law.

Bombco disputes Eleanor’s wage claim on two grounds. First, Bombco contends that the Defense Contractor Wage Fairness Act does not apply to Eleanor’s job. Second, Bombco contends that, even if the DCWFA does apply, the proper SOC classification for Eleanor’s job is “Cutting Machine Operators, Metal & Plastic”, for which the local prevailing wage is only $20/hour.

Does a federal court have subject-matter jurisdiction over Eleanor’s suit?