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Red River Aircraft Leasing, LLC v. Jet Brokers, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

May 21, 2018

JETBROKERS, INC., Defendant.


          A. Jo FISH Senior United States District Judge

         Before the court is the motion of the defendant JetBrokers, Inc. (“JetBrokers”) for summary judgment (docket entry 30). For the reasons stated below, the defendant's motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case is about the purchase of a used Socata TBM 700B[1] aircraft (the “aircraft”). See Defendant's Brief in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment (“JetBrokers' Brief”) at 2 (docket entry 31). In January 2016, the plaintiff Red River Aircraft Leasing, LLC (“Red River”) purchased the aircraft from the Bank of Utah for $950, 000. See JetBrokers' Appendix at 81. JetBrokers acted as the seller's broker and, accordingly, served as an intermediary between the bank and Red River throughout the course of negotiations and the ultimate transaction. See JetBrokers' Brief at 3; see also Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ¶ 5 (docket entry 23).

         The plaintiff, Red River, is a Texas for-profit corporation that buys, sells, leases, and trades aircraft. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ¶ 2. Red River has a place of business and a registered agent located in Dallas, Texas. Id. The defendant, JetBrokers, is a for-profit corporation in the business of providing brokerage services concerning the sale and purchase of aircraft. Defendant's Answer to Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (“JetBrokers' Amended Answer”) ¶ 3 (docket entry 24). JetBrokers is incorporated under the laws of Nevada, with its principal place of business in Chesterfield, Missouri. Id.; see also Defendant's Supplement to Notice of Removal ¶ 2 (docket entry 8).

         According to Red River, the conduct of Jeremy R. Cox (“Cox”), JetBrokers' Vice President, was the impetus for this suit. In particular, Red River avers that as the broker for its transaction with the bank, Cox misinformed Red River about maintenance items related to the aircraft. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ¶ 5. Red River acknowledges that it became aware of damage to the aircraft -- specifically, hail damage to the left hand aileron, right hand aileron, left hand flap, right hand flap, left hand elevator, and right hand elevator -- during the course of negotiations. Id. ¶ 6. But, Red River contends, Cox assured it, both orally and in writing, that the damaged parts were repairable. Id. Despite his assurances, Red River maintains that during the negotiations Cox knew or had reason to believe that the parts were in fact not repairable. Id. ¶ 8. Unaware of this alleged misrepresentation, Red River asserts that it relied in good faith on Cox's assurances and entered into an agreement to purchase the aircraft. Id. ¶ 6.

         After taking possession of the aircraft, Red River learned that the parts in question were not repairable. Id. ¶ 9. In fact, according to Red River, the aircraft has been unable to fly since shortly after closing. Id. In Red River's view, JetBrokers' actions have led to “significant loss by way of costs and labors to replace the [d]amaged [p]arts, loss of a sale to a third party, and other [d]amages.” Id.

         In light of this alleged damage, on October 28, 2016, Red River filed suit in the 44th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas. Defendant's Notice of Removal (“Notice of Removal”) ¶ 1 (docket entry 1). In its original state court petition, Red River asserted three causes of action as the basis for this suit: (1) negligence; (2) negligent misrepresentation; and (3) fraud by non-disclosure. Original Petition ¶¶ 11-29 (docket entry 1-5, exhibit D-1). Red River further specified that it seeks “in excess of $184, 000” for the cost of replacing the damaged parts, and “in excess of $25, 000” for the cost of maintaining the aircraft during the time which it has remained incapacitated. Id. ¶ 10.

         On December 2, 2016, JetBrokers removed the case to this court, alleging diversity of citizenship as the basis for this court's subject matter jurisdiction. On March 23, 2017, Red River filed an amended complaint dropping its fraud by nondisclosure claim. See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint ¶¶ 11-20. Shortly thereafter, on April 5, 2017, JetBrokers filed an answer to the amended complaint. JetBrokers' Amended Answer.

         On December 7, 2017, JetBrokers filed a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket entry 30); Jet Brokers' Brief; JetBrokers' Appendix. On December 28, 2017, Red River filed a response to JetBrokers' motion. Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Red River's Response”) (docket entry 33); Plaintiff's Brief in Support of its Response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (“Red River's Brief”) (docket entry 34). JetBrokers filed a reply on January 18, 2018. Defendant's Reply Brief in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment (“JetBrokers' Reply”) (docket entry 38). JetBrokers' motion is now ripe for decision.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Evidentiary Burdens on Motion for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, depositions, admissions, disclosure materials on file, and affidavits, if any, “show[ ] that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1).[2] A fact is material if the governing substantive law identifies it as having the potential to affect the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue as to a material fact is genuine “if evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.; see also Bazan ex rel. Bazan v. Hidalgo County, 246 F.3d 481, 489 (5th Cir. 2001) (“An issue is ‘genuine' if it is real and substantial, as opposed to merely formal, pretended, or a sham.”). To demonstrate a genuine issue as to the material facts, the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Company v. Zenith Radio Corporation, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party must show that the evidence is sufficient to support the resolution of the material factual issues in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citing First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Service Company, 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)).

         When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. at 255 (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Company, 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). However, it is not incumbent upon the court to comb the record in search of evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact. See Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 405 (5th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has a duty to designate the evidence in the record that establishes the existence of genuine issues as to the material facts. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). “When evidence exists in the summary judgment record but the ...

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