Hogan v. Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION denying 62 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction; granting 64 Motion to Dismiss; granting 68 Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery. Signed by Judge Ted Stewart on 07/06/2012. (tls)
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS
UTAH TELECOMMUNICATION OPEN
INFRASTRUCTURE AGENCY, AKA
UTOPIA, TODD MARRIOT, EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR OF UTAH
INFRASTRUCTURE AGENCY, AND
Case No. 1:11-CV-64 TS
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Chris Hogan’s Motion to Dismiss for Want of
Subject Matter Jurisdiction1 and Defendant Todd Marriott’s Motion to Dismiss.2 Also before the
Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Extend Time to Respond to Defendants’ First Set of Discovery
Docket No. 62.
Docket No. 64.
Requests.3 For the reasons discussed more fully below, the Court will (1) deny Plaintiff’s
Motion to Dismiss, (2) grant Defendant Marriott’s Motion to Dismiss, and (3) grant Plaintiff’s
Motion for Extension of Time.
This action involves the alleged early termination of an Agreement for Professional
Services (the “Agreement”) between Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency
(“UTOPIA”)—an inter-local cooperative entity and political subdivision of the state of
Utah—and Plaintiff Chris Hogan. The Defendants, UTOPIA and its executive director Mr.
Marriott, are both Utah residents. Plaintiff is a citizen of the State of Colorado.
On May 27, 2011, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint containing allegations of breach
of contract, infringement of his constitutional rights, and violation of Utah state statutes and
policy. In a Memorandum Decision and Order,4 this Court dismissed all but Plaintiff’s breach of
contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims.
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO DISMISS
Plaintiff takes the novel position that this Court is without subject matter jurisdiction to
hear his claims. Plaintiff’s argument is that his only remaining claims allege insufficient
damages to meet the threshold amount required for diversity jurisdiction and the Court should
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over his remaining state law claims.
Docket No. 68.
Docket No. 41.
To invoke diversity jurisdiction a Plaintiff must comply with the requirements of 28
U.S.C. § 1332, which provides that “[t]he district 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, and is between . . . citizens of different States.” “In the absence of bad faith or
collusion . . . jurisdiction attaches at the moment of the filing of the complaint and the existence
of a good defense or a voluntary or involuntary reduction of the amount claimed, or a change in
the cause of action, will not defeat jurisdiction previously acquired.”5 However,
if, from the face of the pleadings, it is apparent, to a legal certainty, that the
plaintiff cannot recover the amount claimed or if, from the proofs, the court is
satisfied to a like certainty that the plaintiff never was entitled to recover that
amount, and that his claim was therefore colorable for the purpose of conferring
jurisdiction, the suit will be dismissed.6
Here, Plaintiff’s original complaint clearly sought more than $75,000. Thus, the question
before this Court is whether (1) it was apparent to a legal certainty at the time Plaintiff filed his
original complaint that Plaintiff could not recover more than $75,000 or (2) that Plaintiff’s
dismissed claims were fictitious and colorable for the purpose of conferring jurisdiction.
Anderson-Thompson, Inc. v. Logan Grain Co., 238 F.2d 598, 601-02 (10th Cir. 1956)
(internal citations omitted).
St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289 (1938) (internal
citations omitted); see also Wyo. Ry. Co. v. Herrington, 163 F.2d 1004, 1006 (10th Cir. 1947)
(“It is only where it appears to a legal certainty from the face of the complaint that the plaintiff
cannot recover an amount within the jurisdiction of the court, or where it appears from the proof
that the plaintiff never was entitled to recover that amount, and that the claim is merely colorable
for the purpose of conferring jurisdiction, that a suit of this kind will be dismissed for want of the
requisite amount in controversy.”).
Plaintiff does not allege that his dismissed claims were fictitious or brought in bad faith
merely for the purpose of conferring this Court with jurisdiction. Furthermore, Plaintiff has not
demonstrated that it was apparent to a legal certainty at the time of the filing of his complaint that
he could not recover more than the jurisdictional requirement of $75,000.
Plaintiff cites to Saglioccolo v. Eagle Insurance Co.7 for the proposition that the legal
certainty standard is met because the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). However, the 12(b)(6) and legal certainty standards are not
synonymous.8 The court’s holding in Saglioccolo is also easily distinguished, as that court
specifically found that “it was clear from the face of the pleadings, to a legal certainty that the
plaintiff [could not] recover the amount claimed.”9 In this matter, Plaintiff’s constitutional and
state statutory claims were insufficiently plead to maintain a claim for relief. However, it was
not a legal certainty from the face of the original complaint that Plaintiff would be unable to
recover greater than the jurisdictional threshold of $75,000.
The Court also notes that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate to a legal certainty that he
will not be able to recover more than the jurisdictional threshold on his remaining claims.
112 F.3d 226 (6th Cir. 1997).
See Woodmen of World Life Ins. Soc’y. v. Manganaro, 342 F.3d 1213, 1216-17 (10th
Cir. 2003) (holding that “[t]he legal certainty standard is very strict” and noting that “[c]ertainty
is defined as: ‘absence of doubt; accuracy; precision; definite. The quality of being specific,
accurate, and distinct.’” (quoting Black’s Law Dictionary 225 (6th ed. 1990))), compare with
Miller v. Glanz, 948 F.2d 1562, 1565 (10th Cir. 1991) (“The court’s function on a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion is . . . to assess whether the plaintiff’s complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim
for which relief may be granted.”).
Saglioccolo, 112 F.3d at 233 (internal quotations marks and citation omitted).
Plaintiff asserts that the most he can recover on his remaining claims is $26,640 for UTOPIA’s
breach and $40,000 in attorney’s fees, for a total of $66,640. “Generally,” however, “dismissal
under the legal certainty standard will be warranted only when a contract limits the possible
recovery” or “when the law limits the amount recoverable.”10 Such is not the case here.
Plaintiff’s mere assertion does not establish to a legal certainty that the finder of fact will not
award more than the jurisdictional amount in damages and attorney’s fees.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiff alleged sufficient damages to
meet the threshold amount required for diversity jurisdiction. Because this case is properly
before the Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff’s arguments as to supplemental
jurisdiction will not be addressed.
DEFENDANT MARRIOTT’S MOTION TO DISMISS
Defendant Marriott moves the Court under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to
dismiss him from this action. Plaintiff has not opposed Defendant Marriott’s Motion.
In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted under Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded factual allegations, as distinguished from
conclusory allegations, are accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff as
the nonmoving party.11 Plaintiff must provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
Woodmen, 342 F.3d at 1217 (citing 14B Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice &
Procedure: Jurisdiction § 3702, at 98-101 (3d ed. 1998)).
GFF Corp. v. Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., 130 F.3d 1381, 1384 (10th Cir.
plausible on its face,”12 which requires “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully
harmed-me accusation.”13 “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.’ Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’”14 “The court’s function on
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial,
but to assess whether the plaintiff’s complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for
which relief may be granted.”15 As the Iqbal Court stated, “only a complaint that states a
plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a
plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not
permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged—but it has not show[n]—that the pleader is entitled to relief.”16
When considering the adequacy of a plaintiff’s allegations in a complaint subject to a
motion to dismiss, a district court not only considers the complaint, but also “documents
incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original).
Miller, 948 F.2d at 1565.
Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and
notice.”17 Thus, “notwithstanding the usual rule that a court should consider no evidence beyond
the pleadings on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, ‘[a] district court may consider documents
referred to in the complaint if the documents are central to the plaintiff’s claim and the parties do
not dispute the documents’ authenticity.’”18
Here, Plaintiff’s remaining claims relate to the alleged breach of the Agreement between
Plaintiff and UTOPIA. A copy of the Agreement was attached to and incorporated in Plaintiff’s
Amended Complaint and has been considered by the Court for purposes of this Motion. It is
undisputed that Defendant Marriott is not a party to the Agreement. Furthermore, Plaintiff has
not alleged any grounds for Defendant Marriott to be held jointly liable with UTOPIA under the
Agreement. As such, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief against Defendant Marriott
and the Court will therefore grant Defendant Marriott’s Motion to Dismiss.
Plaintiff requests that the Court extend the time for him to respond to Defendant’s First
Set of Discovery Requests. Defendants have filed a notice of non-opposition to Plaintiff’s
Motion to Extend Time. In its Memorandum Decision entered March 8, 2012, the Court granted
Plaintiff’s previously filed motion to amend scheduling order. Instead of filing an amended
scheduling order, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. Because the Court will deny
Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007) (citing 5B
WRIGHT & MILLER § 1357 (3d ed. 2004 and Supp. 2007)).
Alvarado v. KOB-TV, LLC, 493 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Jacobsen v.
Deseret Book Co., 287 F.3d 936, 941 (10th Cir. 2002)).
Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss, it will grant Plaintiff’s Motion to Extend Time and allow the
parties an opportunity to file an amended scheduling order.
Based on the foregoing, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss for Want of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
(Docket No. 62) is DENIED. It is further
ORDERED that Defendant Marriott’s Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 64) is GRANTED.
It is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Extend Time to Respond to Defendants’ First Set
of Discovery Requests (Docket No. 68) is GRANTED. Plaintiff must file his response to
Defendants’ First Set of Discovery Requests within fourteen (14) days of this Order. The parties
are further instructed to file a proposed amended scheduling order within fourteen (14) days of
DATED July 6, 2012.
BY THE COURT:
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?