United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
Terrence G. Berg, United States District Judge.
Chubb died tragically in a truck accident on March 13, 2015.
His mother, Beth Ann Chubb, as the personal representative of
the Estate of Jacob Chubb, and his widow, Enedelia Chubb,
filed this Complaint on March 13, 2018 alleging that
Defendant Daimler Trucks North America LLC
(“Daimler”) was liable for Mr. Chubb's death
based on theories of negligence, violation of the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, infliction of emotional distress,
and loss of consortium. ECF No. 1. The Court has jurisdiction
over the matter based on the parties' diversity of
citizenship. On January 4, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to
dismiss the Complaint as barred by the statute of
limitations. ECF No. 22. The Court heard oral argument on the
motion on May 20, 2019.
argument, Plaintiffs' counsel for the first time
disclosed that the Estate of Jacob Chubb, which is one of the
named Plaintiffs in this action, was closed-and had no legal
existence-when this Complaint was filed. Plaintiffs have
consequently conceded that, as the case currently stands, the
named Plaintiffs are not the real “parties in
interest” and therefore have no standing to continue
this lawsuit. At oral argument Plaintiffs raised the prospect
of asking the Court to dismiss without prejudice so that the
case could be re-filed on behalf of the proper party in
interest. The Court directed Plaintiffs' counsel to file
a written motion to this effect, which he did on June 6,
2019, styled as a motion for voluntary dismissal pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41. ECF No. 32.
reviewed the grounds set forth in both Defendant's motion
to dismiss based on the statute of limitations and
Plaintiffs' motion for voluntary dismissal, the Court
concludes that neither motion is well-taken, but rather that
Plaintiffs' lack of standing compels dismissal of the
Complaint. The Court therefore DISMISSES the
Complaint and DENIES as moot both pending
Mr. Chubb's death in March 2015, his estate was opened in
Monroe County Probate Court. Plaintiffs' Motion to
Dismiss, ECF No. 32 PageID.263. The probate court issued
letters of authority on behalf of the Estate to Beth Ann
Chubb, Mr. Chubb's mother. Complaint, ECF No. 1 PageID.2.
On February 10, 2017, after Ms. Chubb failed to provide the
probate court with an inventory of the estate, and after
numerous notices of deficiency were mailed, the probate court
administratively closed the Estate. Ex. 1 to Plaintiffs'
Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 32-1 PageID.270.
without realizing that the Estate was closed, Plaintiffs
filed this Complaint on March 13, 2018, naming the Estate and
Enedelia Chubb, Mr. Chubb's widow, as Plaintiffs. After
the Complaint was filed, Plaintiffs failed to serve Defendant
for many months. Seeing that the case was languishing, on
June 29, 2018, some 107 days after Plaintiffs filed the
Complaint, the Court ordered Plaintiffs to show cause why the
case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. ECF
No. 4. The Order to Show Cause required a response from
Plaintiffs no later than July 6, 2018. Plaintiffs missed this
deadline and responded on July 11, 2018. ECF No. 5. After
reviewing Plaintiffs' response, the Court extended the
expiration of the summons until August 17, 2018. ECF No. 7.
Plaintiffs also missed this deadline by failing to serve
Defendant before the summons expired. Observing again that
Plaintiffs were not prosecuting the case, the Court issued a
second show cause order on October 1, 2018. By this time,
nearly seven months had gone by since the Complaint was
filed, but Plaintiffs had still not taken any efforts to
serve Defendant with the Complaint. ECF No. 8. Plaintiffs
responded to the second Order to Show Cause on October 9,
2018. ECF No. 9. Again, after reviewing the response, the
Court extended the expiration of the summons to October 31,
2018. ECF No. 10. Plaintiffs finally served Defendant on
October 31, 231 days after the Complaint was filed.
to Plaintiffs, this delay was necessary “to facilitate
resolution of disputes between the stakeholders, determine
liens and serve the best interests of the minors.”
Plaintiffs' Response to Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss, ECF No. 24 PageID.197. The Court, however, questions
why Defendant could not have been served until after these
matters were resolved.
pending motions require the Court to consider a series of
issues, addressed in turn below.
Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue at the outset of this
first objects to dismissal on Plaintiffs' terms because
Plaintiffs have submitted only the docket sheet from the
probate court indicating that the Estate was closed. On this
basis, Defendant argues that Plaintiffs have not adequately
rebutted their initial allegation that Beth Ann Chubb is the
personal representative of the Estate. Defendant further
contends that because the probate court docket sheet would be
inadmissible at trial, Plaintiffs cannot rely on it to prove
their lack of standing.
district court may not rely on evidence to decide a motion
where that evidence could not be presented in any admissible
form at trial. Bailey v. Floyd Cty. Bd. of Educ.,
106 F.3d 135, 145 (6th Cir. 1997) (“The proffered
evidence need not be in admissible form, but its
content must be admissible.”) (citing
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)).
Here, Defendant has not shown that the content of
the docket sheet could not be presented in any admissible
form. See Oglesby v. Lesan, 929 F.3d 526, 534 (8th
Cir. 2019) (affirming district court's consideration of a
state court docket report for summary judgment purposes);
Buck v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, 597 F.3d 812,
816 (6th Cir. 2010) (finding that a court may “take
judicial notice of other court proceedings” when
deciding a motion to dismiss). The Court may therefore rely
on the probate court's docket sheet to inform this
docket sheet showing mailed notices of deficiency and
ultimate closure of the Estate is sufficient to prove that
the Estate was closed when Plaintiffs filed their Complaint
in March 2018. Because the proper party in an action such as
this is the personal representative of the Estate, but the
Estate referenced in the Complaint is not in ...