IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
April 25, 2011
ACE-TECH AUTO SALES, INC., PLAINTIFF,
MOUNTAIN STATE AUTO AUCTION, INC. AND CAPITAL CITY AUTO AUCTION, INC., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Judge
Pending before the Court is the MOTION TO DISMISS (Document No. 8) filed by Defendants, with a brief in support. Plaintiff Ace-Tech Auto Sales, Inc. ("Ace-Tech") filed a response in opposition with several exhibits and Defendants filed a reply brief. The motion is ripe for disposition.
Defendants assert the following arguments: (1) the entities named as Defendants in this lawsuit did not enter into a contract with Plaintiff; (2) this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because an indispensable party, the actual contracting party, Joe R. Pyle, doing business as Joe R. Pyle Complete Auction Service a/k/a Joe R. Pyle Complete Auction and Realty Service (hereafter "Pyle"), and Plaintiff are both citizens of Pennsylvania; and (3) the Complaint fails to state valid claims for negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation or punitive damages.
The Court first considers the challenge to its subject-matter jurisdiction, which is dispositive. Defendants attached the relevant contract as Exhibit 2 to the Motion to Dismiss. Ace-Tech has not disputed the authenticity of the contract or Defendants' assertion that the contracting party was Joe R. Pyle Complete Auction Service. Nor does Ace-Tech dispute that Pyle is a citizen of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff merely contends that Pyle is not registered as a fictitious or corporate entity in Pennsylvania or West Virginia. As Defendants point out, it is not necessary for a sole proprietorship to register as a fictitious or corporate entity, nor does the lack of registration affect the validity of a contract entered into by that entity. W.F. Meyers Co., Inc. v. Stoddard, 526 A.2d 446, 448 (Pa. Super. 1987); 54 Pa. C.S.A. § 331(a).
Defendants contend that Pyle is an "indispensable party" pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 19. The Court agrees. In Caribbean Telecommunications Ltd. v. Guyana Tel. & Tel. Co. Ltd., 594 F.Supp.2d 522, 532 (D.N.J. 2009) (involving an analogous factual situation), the Court explained: "It is well established that a contracting party is the paradigm of an indispensable party for contract claims." (Citations omitted). The Caribbean Telecommunications Court refused to allow the plaintiff to maintain contract-based claims against entities that were not parties to the contract without joining the actual contracting party as a defendant. Further, because the actual contracting entity would have destroyed complete diversity, the Court dismissed the case with prejudice for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Id. The same result is required here.
In accordance with the foregoing, the MOTION TO DISMISS (Document No. 8) is GRANTED and this case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for lack of jurisdiction. The clerk shall docket this case closed.
BY THE COURT:
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