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Sturkey v. Duty Free Americas, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 1, 2018

GINA STURKEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DUTY FREE AMERICAS, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND/OR FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 18) AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 19) AS MOOT

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Gena Sturkey, Latoya Jones, Corlette Person, Yun Bonilla, Suchet Guha, Nancy Tarevski, Ping Moceri, Aminat Ahmed, Jie Wu, Junying Lu, Hexhire Agolli, Lester Berry, Faye Jones, and Hazel Hager and prospective plaintiff Eva Vigh[1] bring numerous state-law claims against their former employer Duty Free Americas, Inc. This matter is presently before the Court on two motions. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), the Court shall rule without oral argument.

         The Court shall first address defendant's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and/or for summary judgment, which was filed on January 5, 2018, (Doc. 18). Plaintiffs responded on February 5, 2018. (Doc. 22). Defendant filed a reply on February 26, 2018. (Doc. 24).

         Thereafter, the Court shall consider plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, which was filed on January 5, 2018. (Doc. 19). Defendant filed a response on February 5, 2018. (Doc. 21). Plaintiffs' filed a reply on February 26, 2018. (Doc. 23).

         For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is GRANTED. (Doc. 18). As such, plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment is DENIED AS MOOT. (Doc. 19).

         I. Background

         Defendant, a national travel retailer, employed plaintiffs pursuant to a sales and/or service contract with Detroit Metro Airport. (Doc. 1 at PageID 2-3). On or about December 2015, defendant lost its contract with Detroit Metro Airport. (Doc. 1 at PageID 3). Defendant's contract term was scheduled to end on September 19, 2016. (Id.). In February 2016, Bud Silloway met with plaintiffs to discuss severance pay. (Id.). Silloway stated that plaintiffs would receive a severance payment equal to one week of wages for every year of employment if plaintiffs worked through the end of the Detroit Metro Airport contract. (Id.).

         Plaintiffs continued working for defendant until the Detroit Metro Airport contract ended. (Doc. 1 at PageID 3-4). Defendant thereafter provided plaintiffs with their severance payments. (Doc. 1 at PageID 4). These payments, however, were equal to half of one week's wages for every year of employment. (Id.). In a letter dated October 6, 2016, Silloway corrected his previous statement and explained that defendant's usual policy only compensated for half of one week's employment for every year of employment. (Id.). Plaintiffs filed this suit in the Eastern District of Michigan on January 24, 2017 to recover additional severance payment. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs assert seven claims; breach of contract, (Count I), intentional misrepresentation, (Count II), negligent misrepresentation, (Count III), innocent misrepresentation, (Count IV), promissory estoppel, (Count V), unjust enrichment, (Count VI), and declaratory relief, (Count VII).

         II. Legal Standard

         “Motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction fall into two general categories: facial attacks and factual attacks.” United States v. Ritchie, 15 F.3d 592, 598 (6th Cir.1994). “A facial attack is a challenge to the sufficiency of the pleading itself. On such a motion, the court must take the material allegations of the petition as true and construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Id. (emphasis in original). “A factual attack, on the other hand, is not a challenge to the sufficiency of the pleading's allegations, but a challenge to the factual existence of subject matter jurisdiction. On such a motion, no presumptive truthfulness applies to the factual allegations” and “the court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case.” Id. (emphasis in original). A challenge regarding the amount in controversy is a factual attack. See Allstate Ins. Co. v. Renou, 32 F.Supp.3d 856, 860 (E.D. Mich. 2014).

         “Where subject matter jurisdiction is challenged pursuant to 12(b)(1), the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction in order to survive the motion.” Michigan S. R.R. Co. v. Branch & St. Joseph Counties Rail Users Ass'n, 287 F.3d 568, 573 (6th Cir.2002); see also Ohio Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 324 (6th Cir.1990). “The plaintiff must establish subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.” Renou, 32 F.Supp.3d at 860 (citing McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. of Ind., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936)).

         III. Analysis

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), “[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 (1) citizens of different States.” Federal courts rigorously enforce Congress' intent to “drastically [ ] restrict federal jurisdiction in controversies between citizens of different states.” St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 288 (1938). “The rule governing dismissal for want of jurisdiction in cases brought in the federal court is that, unless the law gives a different rule, the sum claimed by the plaintiff controls if the claim is apparently made in good faith.” Id. “[I]f, 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.” Id. at 289.

         Defendant argues that the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000 because the unpaid severance figures range from $250.00 to $5, 722.21, and total $35, 869.75. Plaintiffs' first responsive argument urges the Court ...


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