United States District Court, S.D. New York
February 4, 2004.
MEL HEIKO, Plaintiff, V. KEIL EQUIPMENT COMPANY, INC., GRAVELY EQUIPMENT COMPANY, and PECO INC. Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARBARA JONES, District Judge
Plaintiff Mel Heiko, who is an attorney appearing pro se, filed a
complaint in the Court on September 19, 2002 ("Complaint") alleging that
Defendants Keil Equipment Co, Inc. ("Keil"), Gravley Equipment Co.
("Gravley"), and Peco, Inc. ("Peco") breached certain warranties they
made in conjunction with the sale of mowing equipment, in violation of
15 U.S.C. § 2310. (Compl. at 2-7). Plaintiff alleges no other causes of
In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that the Court has jurisdiction
under 15 U.S.C. § 2310, as well as under the federal question statute,
28 U.S.C. § 1331.*fn1 Plaintiff also maintains that he suffered $10,000
in damages, "including $5,000.00 incidental and $5,000.00 consequential
damages [sic]," and that he is "entitled to a refund for the return of
the equipment," which cost $2,639.52.*fn2 (Id. at 2, 7).
Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter
Jurisdiction on the premise that Plaintiff's Complaint did not meet the
jurisdictional requirement of 15 U.S.C. § 2310 that there be at least
$50,000 in controversy. The Court agrees and therefore dismisses the
Plaintiff pleads that there is federal question jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. "Federal question jurisdiction exists where a
well-pleaded complaint `establishes either that federal law creates the
cause of action or that the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily
depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law.'"
Perpetual Sec., Inc. v. Tang, 290 F.3d 132, 137 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting
Greenberg v. Bear, Stearns & Co., 220 F.3d 22, 25 (2d. Cir. 2000)). When
deciding whether federal question jurisdiction exists, a court must
examine "the nature of the federal question raised in [each] claim to see
if it is sufficiently substantial to warrant federal jurisdiction."
Perpetual Sec., 290 F.3d at 137 (quoting Greenblatt v. Delta Plumbing &
Heating Corp., 68 F.3d 561, 570 (2d Cir. 1995)).
In this case, it is clear that the Court would not have jurisdiction
over Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 unless it had
jurisdiction under 15 U.S.C. § 2310.
15 U.S.C. § 2310, known as the Magnuson-Moss Act ("Act"), authorizes
consumers to sue warrantors "for damages and other legal and equitable
relief" for failure to comply with any written or implied warranty. Lieb
v. American Motors Corp., 538 F. Supp. 127, 131 (S.D.N.Y. 1982) (quoting
15 U.S.C. § 2310 (d)(1)). According to the Act, an action may be brought
in state or federal court. 15 U.S.C. § 2310 (d)(1)(A)-(B). However, the
Act restricts access to federal courts to those suits satisfying certain
requirements. Specifically, the Act states that,
No claim shall be cognizable in a suit brought under
[15 U.S.C. § 2310 in federal district court] . . . (B)
if the amount in controversy is less than the sum or
value of $50,000 (exclusive of interests and costs)
computed on the basis of all claims to be determined
in this suit . . .
15 U.S.C.A. § 2310.
The party invoking the Court's jurisdiction bears the "burden of
proving that it appears to a `reasonable probability' that the claim is in
excess of the statutory jurisdictional amount." Scherer v. Equitable Life
Assurance Society, 347 F.3d 394, 397 (2d Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).
In this case, Plaintiff admits that in order for this Court to have
jurisdiction over his Section 2310 claim, the amount in controversy must
equal or exceed $50,000. (Plaintiff's Affirmation in Opposition to
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, dated Jan. 28, 2003 ("Pl's
Aff.") at 2. On the face of the Complaint, however, Plaintiff only
alleges that he is due damages in the amount of $12,639.52. He
nonetheless argues that he is "entitled to damages for consequential
economic loss and damages [sic], for deceit and misrepresentation and
fraud against [Defendants], can and should [sic] exceed the sum of
$50,000." (Plaintiff's Supplemental Memorandum of Law, dated Jan. 28,
2003 ("Pl's Supp. Mem."), at 1). To the contrary, however, the Court has
already included in the $12,639.52 figure $5,000 for "incidental" and
$5,000 for "consequential" damages, as Plaintiff alleged in his
Complaint. Moreover, although Plaintiff argues that he has claims for
fraud and misrepresentation, these claims appear nowhere in his
Plaintiff also argues that punitive damages contribute to the amount in
controversy. (Pl's Supp. Mem. at 6). Like the fraud and misrepresentation
claims, however, a request for an award of punitive damages does not
appear in his Complaint, nor does Plaintiff allege any facts sufficient to
justify such a claim. Moreover, "[i]n breach of warranty suits, which is
all that Magnuson-Moss permits, damages [in New York] ordinarily are
limited to the difference between the value of the goods accepted and the
value they would have had if they had been as warranted." Lieb, 538 F.
Supp. at 134 (citing N.Y.U.C.C. Law § 2-714(2) (McKinney)).
Accordingly, the Court grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the
Complaint for lack of jurisdiction because it fails to allege that there
is at least $50,000 in controversy.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case.