United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on defendant Learjet,
Inc.’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. (DE
# 11.) For the reasons set forth below, defendant’s
motion is granted and the amended complaint (DE # 14) is
AV Liquidators II, LLC (“AV Liquidators”), is an
Indiana company with its principle place of business in
Valparaiso, Indiana. (DE # 14 at 1.) AV Liquidators sells and
loans aircraft parts. (Id.) Plaintiff Sage-Popovich,
Inc. (“Sage-Popovich”) is an Indiana corporation
with its principle place of business in Valparaiso, Indiana.
(Id.) Sage-Popovich is an aviation consulting firm
that oversees aircraft repairs and accident investigations.
(Id.) Defendant Learjet, Inc.
(“Learjet”) is a Kansas corporation with its
principle place of business in Kansas. (DE # 12 at 2.)
Learjet operates aircraft repair stations throughout the
United States. (DE # 14 at 2.)
March 2015, Sage-Popovich was hired to oversee the accident
investigation and repair of an aircraft in Marco Island,
Florida. (Id. at 2-3.) Learjet operated an aircraft
repair station in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Sage-Popovich
authorized Learjet to perform an inspection on the aircraft.
(Id. at 3.) As part of the inspection, Sage-Popovich
borrowed “loaner brakes” from Ship It AOG - an
entity in a joint venture relationship with AV Liquidators -
to test the brake pressure. (Id.) According to
plaintiffs, the loaner brakes were damaged during the course
of the post-accident investigation. (Id.) After the
brakes were returned to Ship It AOG, Ship It AOG sent
Sage-Popovich an invoice itemizing the damage caused to the
loaner brakes. (Id.) Plaintiffs explain that AV
Liquidators paid the invoice because it had coordinated
Learjet’s use of the brakes. (Id.)
complaint alleges one count of failure to pay for property
damage. Plaintiffs argue that this court has diversity
jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332. (DE # 14 at 1.) Defendant argues that plaintiffs’
complaint must be dismissed for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and standing. (DE # 11
at 1.) However, because this court finds that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the alternative bases identified
in the motion to dismiss need not be addressed. See
Illinois v. City of Chicago, 137 F.3d 474, 478 (7th Cir.
1998) (“Subject-matter jurisdiction is the first
question in every case, and if the court concludes that it
lacks jurisdiction it must proceed no further.”); Fed.
R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any
time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court
must dismiss the action.”).
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) asserts that the court lacks jurisdiction over the
subject matter. A Rule 12(b)(1) motion can present either a
facial or factual challenge to subject-matter jurisdiction.
Apex Digital, Inc. V. Sears, Roebucks & Co., 572
F.3d 440 (7th Cir. 2009). A facial attack is a challenge to
the sufficiency of the pleading itself. Id. When
such a challenge has been presented, the court takes all
well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Long v.
Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999).
Conversely, where there is a factual challenge to
subject-matter jurisdiction, “the district court may
properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the
complaint . . . to determine whether in fact subject matter
jurisdiction exists.” Sapperstein v. Hager,
188 F.3d 852, 855 (7th Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted).
argues that plaintiffs’ case must be dismissed for want
of subject-matter jurisdiction because plaintiffs have failed
to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement necessary to
establish diversity jurisdiction. In lieu of filing a
response brief, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint within
the prescribed time-frame. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(1)(B). Defendant filed a reply, contending that the
amended complaint suffers the same deficiencies as the
original and must be dismissed. (DE # 17.) Defendant’s
initial motion presented a facial challenge to the
court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, arguing that
plaintiffs failed to plead damages satisfying the amount in
controversy required by 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Plaintiffs’ amended complaint fixed this facial defect
by adding a claim for damages relating to shipping costs. In
the reply, defendant presented a factual challenge to the
amount in controversy; challenging both the existence of the
shipping charges, as well as the relevance of the charges to
plaintiffs’ alleged damages in this case. (DE # 17 at 2
(“[T]he alleged shipping charges would have been
incurred by Plaintiffs regardless of any damage to the brakes
and are not a proper element of Plaintiffs’
amount in controversy requirement is set forth in 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 as follows: “[D]istrict courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter
in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive
of interest and costs.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
“If uncontested, the courts will accept the
plaintiff’s good faith allegation of the amount in
controversy unless it ‘appear[s] to a legal certainty
that the claim is really for less than the jurisdictional
amount.’” Rexford Rand Corp. v. Ancel,
58 F.3d 1215, 1218 (7th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation
omitted). Where the amount in controversy is contested,
however, the plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing that
subject-matter jurisdiction is proper by a preponderance of
the evidence. Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v. Sadowski,
441 F.3d 536, 543 (7th Cir. 2006). To satisfy this burden, a
party must do more than “point to the theoretical
availability of certain categories of damages.”
McMillian v. Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers,
567 F.3d 839, 844 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted). Rather, the “plaintiff must
support its assertion with ‘competent
proof.’” Id. (quoting Rexford Rand
Corp., 58 F.3d at 1218). Acceptable forms of proof
include documentary or testimonial evidence of damages, or
factual examples from the immediate case and cases similar to
the immediate case. McMillian, 567 F.3d at 844.
However, “uncertainty about whether the plaintiff can
prove its substantive claim, and whether damages (if the
plaintiff prevails on the merits) will exceed the threshold,
does not justify dismissal.” Meridian, 441
F.3d at 543.
plaintiffs rely solely on their amended complaint to
establish that they can satisfy the amount in controversy
requirement. Attached to the amended complaint is an invoice
sent from Ship It AOG to Sage-Popovich demanding payment for
the damaged brakes in the amount of $74,954.92. (DE # 14-1.)
To meet the amount in controversy threshold, plaintiffs also
added an allegation in their amended complaint asserting
that, “[i]n addition to the damages recited on [the
invoice], Plaintiffs incurred shipping charges of $865.69 and
$726.46.” (DE # 14 at 4.) Plaintiffs did not provide
any evidence to support the alleged shipping charges.
have not met their burden of establishing damages that
satisfy the amount in controversy. Plaintiffs’ addition
of the alleged shipping charges - without any additional
supporting evidence - is not enough to survive
defendant’s factual challenge to the amount in
controversy. See Davis v. LeClair Ryan, P.C., 363 F.
App’x 395, 396 (7th Cir. 2010) (where a defendant has
challenged the alleged amount in controversy, “the
plaintiff cannot merely rest on his complaint alone but must
establish that he has satisfied the jurisdictional threshold
by a preponderance of the evidence”);
McMillian, 567 F.3d at 845 (“when the amount
in controversy is contested, the parties asserting federal
jurisdiction must come forward with competent proof that they
have satisfied the jurisdictional threshold” and may
not simply rely on the allegations contained in the
complaint). Plaintiffs have not satisfied this burden here,
where they rely exclusively on the allegations contained in
their amended complaint.
also failed to establish that the shipping charges are
related to defendant’s alleged property damage. On the
face of plaintiffs’ pleadings, it appears that the
brakes would have been shipped to and from the repair
facility in any event. Defendant’s alleged property
damage was not related to these charges. Plaintiffs may not
use unrelated costs to satisfy jurisdictional requirements.
See Remijas v. Neiman Marcus Grp., LLC., 794 F.3d
688, 691–92 (7th Cir. 2015) (a litigant only has
standing to pursue relief from an injury that is concrete and
particularized, and fairly traceable to the defendant’s
conduct). Thus, plaintiffs ...