STROTEK CORPORATION v. AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA 0116481

Docket Nº:0116481
Party Name:STROTEK CORPORATION v. AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Case Date:July 10, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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STROTEK CORPORATION v. AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA 0116481

FOR PUBLICATION

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

STROTEK CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA; AIRBUS INDUSTRIE OF NORTH AMERICA; ALASKA AIRLINES, INC.; AMERICA WEST AIRLINES, INC.; AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC.; MCDONNELL DOUGLAS CORPORATION; CONTINENTAL AIRLINES INC.; DELTA AIRLINES, INC.; BOEING AIRCRAFT CO.; FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION; REGIONAL AIRLINE ASSOCIATION; SOUTHWEST AIRLINES INC.; TRANS WORLD AIRLINES, INC.; UNITED AIRLINES, INC.; US AIRWAYS, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 01-16481; D.C. No. CV-00-00065-ECR

OPINION

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada

Edward C. Reed, Jr., District Judge, Presiding

Argued and Submitted

July 10, 2002—San Francisco, California

Filed August 22, 2002

Before: William C. Canby, Jr. and Pamela Ann Rymer, Circuit Judges, and William O. Bertelsman, Senior District Judge.*

*Honorable William O. Bertelsman, Senior United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, sitting by designation.

Opinion by Judge Rymer

COUNSEL

Lee S. Molof and Robert C. Vohl, Molof & Vohl, Reno, Nevada, for the plaintiff-appellant.

Paul H. Friedman, Dechert Price & Rhoads, Washington, D.C., for the defendants-appellees.

OPINION

RYMER, Circuit Judge:

This is the second round in a decade-long struggle by Strotek Corporation, a Nevada corporation, against three air frame manufacturers, eleven commercial airlines, and two trade associations who allegedly conspired to put Strotek out of business. Strotek claims that they conspired to defame its technology as a way of punishing it for convincing federal regulators to require testing of aircraft strobe lights. These allegations were first made in a federal action brought under the Sherman Act, Strotek Corp. v. Air Transport Ass’n of Am., et al., CV-N-96-742-ECR (D. Nev.) (Strotek I), but the district court entered summary judgment against Strotek on its antitrust claim and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, which it dismissed without prejudice. It could do this because, at the time Strotek I was filed (December 1996), the district court lacked diversity jurisdiction: the defendant Airline Transport Association of America (ATA) was then an unincorporated trade association deemed a citizen of any state where it had members — which included Nevada.

Strotek refiled the state law claims in Nevada state court (Strotek II) on October 6, 1999 against all but two of the same defendants named in Strotek I. The first amended complaint in Strotek II, which was filed December 6, 1999, names "Air Transport Association of America" as a defendant. Service was effected January 28, 2000 at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA, Inc.) — the corporation that had taken over ATA’s activities over a year earlier. Unlike its predecessor, ATA, Inc. is a citizen of the District of Columbia and is therefore diverse from Strotek. ATA, Inc. appeared and all defendants timely removed on February 3, 2000 on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441.

Strotek moved to remand on the ground that the Air Transport Association, the entity which its complaint actually names, continues to exist as an unincorporated trade association whose Nevada members destroy diversity. The district court denied the motion because of undisputed evidence that the ATA incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia May 21, 1998; that the ATA ceased to operate as an unincorporated association December 31, 1998; and that as of that date all of ATAs operations, assets and liabilities were transferred to ATA, Inc. Because ATA, Inc. was a...

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