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Joda, LLC v. Professional Air Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

July 11, 2014

JODA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PROFESSIONAL AIR SERVICES, LLC, Defendant.

OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims, [Doc. No. 29]. Defendant opposes the Motions. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

Facts and Background[1]

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges the following facts:

Plaintiff was the owner of a Learjet model 55 Aircraft, Manufacturer's Serial Number 55-048, U.S. Registration Number N831JP with two (2) Garrett/Honeywell engines, model: TFE731-3A-2B, S/N's P85170 & P85148 (collectively, the "Learjet"), and all log books, records and other materials required by the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") for the operation of the aircraft (the "Aircraft Records" and collectively referred to with the Learjet as the "Aircraft").

On March 4, 2009, Plaintiff and Defendant executed a Domestic Aircraft Lease with Purchase Option wherein Plaintiff agreed to lease the Aircraft to Defendant for a period of sixty (60) months, commencing with the receipt of delivery of the Aircraft. Pursuant to Paragraph 3 of the Aircraft Lease, basic rent was due to be paid by Defendant to Plaintiff on a monthly basis in accordance with the Payment Schedule Annex 1 attached to the Aircraft Lease.

Pursuant to Paragraphs 6 and 11 of the Aircraft Lease, Defendant was responsible for all repairs and maintenance of the Aircraft. Pursuant to Paragraph 14 of the Aircraft Lease, Defendant agreed, among other things, not to allow any lien or encumbrance to be placed on the Aircraft and to promptly, at Defendant's sole cost, discharge any such lien or encumbrance if such arose at any time.

Paragraph 9b of the Aircraft Lease provides that, "upon termination of this Lease, by lapse of time or otherwise, [Defendant], at its sole cost and expense, shall return the Aircraft to [Plaintiff] by delivery of the same to [Plaintiff] at any reasonable location in the Continental United States, chosen by [Plaintiff]; provided it is equidistant from the last stop, at lease termination, to Spirit of St. Louis Airport, St. Louis, MO, U.S.A., as it is from its point of delivery...."

Paragraphs 9 and 11 of the Aircraft Lease provide that Defendant is responsible for maintaining the Learjet in good operating condition and to "deliver the Aircraft free of any defects or deficiencies not otherwise present (and itemized to [Plaintiff] in writing) at initial delivery; all systems shall be operational and the Aircraft shall be completely airworthy in accord with all manufacturer's requirements."

After multiple defaults under the Aircraft Lease, Plaintiff sent Defendant a Notice of Default and opportunity to cure pursuant to the Aircraft Lease on August 26, 2013 (the "Notice of Default"). Defendant failed to cure its defaults under the Aircraft Lease. On September 13, 2013, Plaintiff sent Defendant a notice terminating its right to possession of the Aircraft and a Notice of Acceleration of all amounts due under the Aircraft Lease and demanded the return of the Aircraft, including all log books, records, and other materials required by the FAA. To date, Defendant has failed to return the Aircraft to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff understands that the Learjet is located at Southern Skies Jet Services, LLC ("SSJS") at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport in Florida and that SSJS is claiming a lien in the approximate amount of $189, 216.81 for parts, labor and storage charges and estimates that another $100, 000 is necessary to make the Learjet airworthy. Plaintiff is unaware of the location of the Aircraft Records.

SSJS informed Plaintiff that it had scheduled an auction of the Learjet for September 27, 2013 to satisfy the amount of its lien associated with its repairs and storage of the Learjet, but it recently continued this auction to be reset on a future date.

As of September 26, 2013, the amount due and owing to Plaintiff under the Aircraft Lease is $1, 171, 906.47, which represents unpaid principal in the amount of $1, 096, 688.32, accrued, but unpaid interest, in the amount of $72, 162.91, and late fees in the amount of $3, 055.24. Interest continues to accrue at the per diem rate of $251.32 until paid.

Pursuant to the Aircraft Lease, Plaintiff claims it is entitled to recover from Defendant all fees and costs associated with (a) obtaining possession of the Aircraft, (b) returning the Aircraft to an airworthy condition, (c) warehousing, storing, and transporting the Aircraft, and (d) satisfying any liens encumbering the Aircraft including the lien of SSJS for storage and repairs. The Aircraft Lease also provides that Defendant shall pay Plaintiff "all costs and expenses of taking and storing the Aircraft, and attorneys' fees, court costs, legal expenses and other costs and expenses incurred by [Plaintiff] in exercising any of its ...


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