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198 Trust Agreement v. Caams, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 30, 2015

THE 198 TRUST AGREEMENT, DATED DECEMBER 15, 2010, AND ANY AMENDMENTS THERETO, Plaintiff,
v.
CAAMS, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER

RAYMOND P. MOORE, District Judge.

This matter concerns Plaintiff's, The 198 Trust Agreement, dated December 15, 2010, and any amendments thereto ("The 198 Trust") Complaint (ECF No. 1) against Defendant, CAAMS, LLC ("CAAMS") for conversion and civil theft. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 29-42.) At issue is a DeHavilland DHC-6-200 aircraft with a United States Registration Number of N226CS (the "Aircraft").

On June 10, 2014, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint based upon its contention that Colorado's economic loss rule bars both of Plaintiff's claims. (ECF No. 10.) That motion is fully briefed. (ECF Nos. 10; 11[1]; 12; 30; 30-1; 30-2; 30-3.)

On February 6, 2015, the Court, sua sponte, ordered the parties to file cross briefs as to how, pursuant Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Plaintiff is the real party in interest and has capacity to sue. (ECF No. 24.) The parties filed responsive briefs. (ECF Nos. 28; 31.)

On March 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion ("March 6 Motion") to "amend the case caption to reflect Plaintiff's name as "The 198 Trust.'" (ECF No. 36 at 1.) Alternatively, Plaintiff moved the Court to "join as a plaintiff Plaintiff's trustee, The Bank of Utah, not in its individual capacity but solely as Owner Trustee of The 198 Trust Agreement dated December 15, 2010, and any amendments thereto'" (hereinafter "Owner Trustee") pursuant to Rule 17(a)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 36 at 1.) Defendant filed a brief in response to Plaintiff's March 6 Motion. (ECF No. 38.) Defendant does not object to Plaintiff's request to change Plaintiff's name in the caption. (ECF No. 38 at 1.) Defendant opposes Plaintiff's March 6 Motion to join Owner Trustee as a plaintiff. (ECF No. 38 at 1-3.) Plaintiff filed a reply brief in support of its March 6 Motion. (ECF No. 44.)

For the following reasons, the Court (1) DISMISSES the Complaint (ECF No. 1); (2) DENIES Plaintiff's March 6 Motion (ECF No. 36); and (3) DENIES as MOOT Defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 10).

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff did not attach the trust agreement to the Complaint nor provide it to the Court. ( See generally Dkt.)

Plaintiff is a "trust organized under the laws of Utah for the sole and exclusive benefit of Owner Trustee, Trustor and the Bank' (collectively, the Beneficiaries')." (ECF No. 1 ¶ 1.) Plaintiff was formed with the trustor's intent to "purchase and hold [the Aircraft], with title thereto to be held in name of the beneficiary, Owner Trustee, who is defined in The 198 Trust Agreement as the Bank of Utah...." (ECF No. 1 ¶ 1.)

Plaintiff alleges "Defendant has taken intentional tortious actions, in the form of conversion and civil theft of the Aircraft, against Plaintiff and its beneficiaries...." (ECF No. 1 ¶ 4.) Plaintiff alleges, however, that "Owner Trustee has been the owner of record and registered owner of the Aircraft as shown in the Federal Aviation Administration's Aircraft Registry." (ECF No. 1 ¶ 8.)

On December 29, 2010, Plaintiff leased the Aircraft to Rampart Aviation, LLC ("Rampart") pursuant to a six-year aircraft lease agreement. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 9.) On September 29, 2012, Rampart entered into an aircraft sublease agreement (the "Sublease") for the Aircraft with Defendant for a term of three months. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 10.) On October 10, 2012, Defendant, Aero Ruta Maya, S.A. ("ARMSA"), Rampart, Owner Trustee, and Zions Credit Corporation, N.A. ("Bank") entered into a sub-sublessee consent agreement. (ECF No. 1. ¶¶ 1, 14, 16.) Subsequently, Rampart and Defendant amended the Sublease to extend it. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 17, 18.)

"Since the expiration of the Sublease... Defendant has failed or refused to return the Aircraft to Rampart." (ECF No. 1 ¶ 21.)

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Real Party in Interest

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(a)(1) requires that "[a]n action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest." "[T]he real party in interest is the one who, under applicable substantive law, has the legal right to bring suit." Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Geldermann Inc., 975 F.2d 695, 698 (10th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). The Court "may not dismiss an action for failure to prosecute in the name of the real party in interest until, after an objection, a reasonable time has been allowed for the real party in interest to ratify, join, or be substituted into the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a)(3). The Court's decision whether to join or substitute a party as a "real party in interest" under Rule 17(a) is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Scheufler v. Gen. Host Corp., 126 F.3d 1261, 1270 (10th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).

B. Capacity to Sue

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(b) provides that the [c]apacity to sue or be sued ...


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