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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decided one Indiana case yesterday

In Panther Brands, LLC v. Indy Racing League, LLC (SD Ind., Pratt), a 7-page opinion, Chief Judge Wood writes:

This case arises from the world of auto racing and the sponsorships that go along with it, but it is in the wrong court. Panther Brands is a marketing and brand management company. In 2013, Panther signed a contract with IndyCar, which authorizes the Indy Racing League car series, to purchase various marketing benefits to provide to its team sponsor. The benefits included access to coveted space in the “Fan Village” at IndyCar racing events, an area where sponsors set up displays to attract fans. The Army National Guard (“the Guard”) had been Panther’s team sponsor from 2008 to 2013. After it signed the 2013 contract, Panther learned that another team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (“RLL Racing”), intended to provide the Guard with Fan Village space as a sponsorship benefit.

Believing that RLL Racing had conspired with IndyCar and a bid management agency called Docupak to persuade the Guard to sponsor RLL Racing instead of Panther, Panther brought suit in state court against RLL Racing, Docupak, IndyCar, and active‐duty Guard member John Metzler, who acted as the liaison between the Guard and Panther. The defendants removed the case to federal court, where the United States was substituted as a party for Metzler, see 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d); Panther then filed an amended complaint that did not name either Metzler or the United States. The district court dismissed the complaint against RLL Racing, IndyCar, and Docupak pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and found the United States’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction moot. Because the basis for federal jurisdiction disappeared when Panther amended its complaint, we vacate the district court’s decision and remand for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. * * *

After the United States (standing in for Metzler) was eliminated as a party as a result of Panther’s amendment of the complaint, the basis for federal jurisdiction disappeared. This is so even accepting that Westfall Act removal was appropriate initially.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 28, 2016 10:15 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions