In Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity (2023), filed in the Wyoming District of U.S. court, the plaintiffs are seven women, members of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at University of Wyoming, suing the national organization (based in Ohio) for allegedly having admitted a man to their sorority.

The original complaint was filed anonymously. Paragraphs 15–21 describe the plaintiffs. Paragraph 16 reads:

Jane Doe II is a citizen of a state that is not Illinois, Ohio, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming.

Plaintiff Jane Doe VI is also described in this odd way.

The other plaintiffs are simply described as citizens of a single specific state, variously Nebraska, Colorado, or Oklahoma.

What is up with “not Illinois, Ohio, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming”? I can think of reasons why Wyoming and Ohio are in there: the case concerns a Wyoming matter and was filed in the District of Wyoming, and the defendant is based in Ohio. Why are Illinois, Utah, and Washington mentioned specifically, and no other state is?


1 Answer 1


This case was filed in federal court under diversity jurisdiction, meaning that it’s a lawsuit between citizens of different states. In most cases, diversity jurisdiction requires “complete” diversity: every plaintiff has to be a citizen of a different state than every defendant. If one of 12 plaintiffs is a Maryland resident and one of 15 defendants is also a Maryland resident, that tiny overlap means the entire lawsuit is kicked back to state court.

In this case, the defendants are an Ohio fraternity, an Illinois resident, a Wyoming company, and a person whose residence is unclear. Defendant Smith might be a Wyoming resident, a Utah resident, or a Washington resident. The plaintiffs aren’t sure. However, as long as the plaintiffs aren’t residents of any of those states, there’s complete diversity of citizenship. It doesn’t matter whether Doe II is from Alaska or Florida, just that she isn’t from the same state as any defendant.

  • 1
    What if 0 of 12 plaintiffs, but 2 of 15 defendants, are from Maryland? Or similarly, but with multiple plaintiffs?
    – BThompson
    May 1, 2023 at 21:06
  • 1
    But presumably the person wrriting the complaint knows that Doe II is a citizen of New Jersey (or wherever), so why not just say so, as was done for five of the other plaintiffs? May 1, 2023 at 22:30
  • 13
    @MarkDominus One possibility: if the sorority chapter only had a single NJ resident, that would defeat the purpose of the pseudonym.
    – cpast
    May 2, 2023 at 0:04
  • 3
    @BThompson that's fine. There are multiple Does from Colorado in the complaint
    – Caleth
    May 2, 2023 at 9:48
  • 2
    @supercat: If it was removed from state court, it goes back to the court it was originally filed in. If it was originally filed in federal court, then it gets dismissed without prejudice and the plaintiffs have to figure out where to refile.
    – Kevin
    May 2, 2023 at 22:12

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