United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
IBX JETS, LLC, CHRISTOPHER JONES, MICHAEL JONES, BRANDON COLEMAN, and IBX AIR CORPORATION, Plaintiffs,
JUSTIN SULLIVAN, and UB AIR, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge.
IBX Jets, LLC (“IBX Jets”), Christopher Jones,
Michael Jones, Brandon Coleman, and IBX Air Corporation
(“IBX Air”) initiated an action in the Western
District of Michigan against Defendants UB Air, LLC
(“UB Air”), Justin Sullivan, Paradigm Jet
Management Inc. (“Paradigm”), and Jetaway Air
Service LLC (“Jetaway”). See IBX Jets, LLC,
et al. v. Paradigm Jet Mgmt. Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-229
(W.D. Mich. Oct. 24, 2017). Finding that it probably lacked
personal jurisdiction over Defendants Sullivan and UB Air,
and that venue for the claims against these defendants for
defamation and tortious interference with advantageous
relations was improper in the Western District of Michigan,
the court transferred the defamation claim (Count V) and the
tortious interference claim (Count VI) to the District of
Massachusetts under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Now before the
court is Defendants UB Air and Sullivan's Motion for
Summary Judgment [#122]. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motion is ALLOWED.
review of a motion for summary judgment, a court must view
the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. See Griggs-Ryan v. Smith, 904 F.2d 112, 115
(1st Cir. 1990). Summary judgment is only appropriate
“if the record, so viewed, discloses that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Santiago v. Puerto Rico, 655 F.3d 61, 68 (1st Cir.
2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2)). “A dispute is
genuine if the evidence about the fact is such that a
reasonable jury could resolve the point in the favor of the
non-moving party. A fact is material if it has the potential
of determining the outcome of the litigation.”
Patco Constr. Co. v. People's United Bank, 684
F.3d 197, 206-07 (1st Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and
following facts are either undisputed in the summary judgment
record, not properly disputed for summary judgment purposes,
see Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 56(c) and
(e)(2), or are viewed in the light most favorable to
Plaintiffs. UB Air is an aircraft charter broker.
Def.'s Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts
[hereinafter “Defs.' SOF”] ¶ 5 [#123].
UB Air does not own or operate any aircraft, but instead
connects customers who wish to purchase charter flights with
companies providing air transportation. Id.;
Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 2 [“Justin Sullivan
Aff't”] ¶ 2 [#122-2]. One such client
contracted with UB Air in August 2015 to arrange for a
roundtrip charter flight between White Plains, New York, and
Ushuaia, Argentina. Defs.' SOF ¶ 12. As arranged,
the New York to Argentina leg was to take place December 20,
2015. Id. The return flight was scheduled for
January 1, 2016. Id.
contacted IBX Jets, an air transportation provider. IBX Jets
quoted a price of $186, 410.83 for a roundtrip flight aboard
a Gulfstream G-V aircraft operated by Paradigm and owned by
Jetaway. Pls.' Rule 56.1 Responses to Def.'s
Statement Undisputed Facts [hereinafter “Pls.' SOF
Responses”] ¶ 13 [#126]. A UB Air manager signed a
charter flight confirmation agreement with IBX Jets on August
10, 2015, confirming that IBX Jets would provide the agreed
upon air charter services for UB Air's client. Pls.'
SOF Responses Ex. 2 [“Contract”]
wired $27, 961.50 as an installment payment on September 1.
Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 15-16. UB Air wired the remaining
balance of $158, 449.33 on December 9.
Id. The first leg of the trip took place as
planned on December 20. Id. ¶ 21. On December
31, Rebecca Camacho, a representative for IBX Jets, emailed
Paradigm stating that the return leg of the client's trip
“has been cancelled . . . .” Defs.' SOF
¶ 22. That flight never occurred. Pls.' SOF
Responses ¶ 23.
aircraft at issue was grounded on January 15, 2016.
Defs.' SOF ¶ 29. As of January 18, Christopher and
Michael Jones instructed IBX Jets's sales director,
Brandon Coleman, not to quote any more trips. Defs.' SOF
¶ 30. According to Coleman, he “was directed not
to quote anymore trips because they wouldn't have taken
off anyway.” Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 9
[“Brandon Coleman Dep.”] 12:22-23 [#122-9].
Describing the situation IBX Jets faced as of mid-January,
Coleman testified that, “after - around the 18th or
middle of the month, that timeframe, it was clear that, you
know, there was a cash flow issue and kind of the immediate
future as far as being able to book trips was up in the
air.” Id. at 13:5-10.
Sullivan, UB Air's owner, posted an email to the National
Business Aviation Association (“NBAA”) charter
email forum on January 18. Defs.' SOF ¶ 25;
Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 2 [“Sullivan
Aff't”] ¶ 1 [#122-2]. NBAA is a private
organization whose membership consists of both owners and
operators of business aircraft and air charter brokers.
Defs.' SOF ¶ 11. NBAA's charter email forum, on
which Sullivan posted his email, enables NBAA members to post
queries, make announcements, and communicate with other
members about the air charter broker business. Defs.'
Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 5 [“Benjamin Schwalen
Aff't”] ¶¶ 2-4 [#122-5]. The subject line
of Sullivan's email was “IBX Jets: Jet Charter
Terrorists.” Id. ¶ 25. In the body of the
email, Sullivan wrote: “Hello. IBX Jets is an agent for
Paradigm Jets G-V, N17ND. If anyone has had any issues with
IBX booking a trip, cancelling it and then stealing your
client's deposit, please contact me offline. Sincerely,
Justin Sullivan.” Id.
email was not the first time an air charter broker had posted
an email critical of IBX Jets to the NBAA forum. The record
includes multiple emails about IBX Jets from other NBAA
members in 2015 and 2016. See Defs.' Mot. Summ.
J. Ex. 6 [“NBAA Emails”] [#122-6]. For example,
one NBAA member wrote in April 2015, under the subject line
“SCAM!! IBX Jets - Mike & Chris Jones, ” that
“[i]f anyone else has encountered a money issue with
IBX Jets please contact me offline. WARNING NO ONE USE THEM!!
THEY WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY AND NEVER DO THE TRIP.”
Id. at 1. Numerous NBAA members responded to this
email and described their similar experiences with IBX Jets.
Id. at 10, 12, 14. Other emails requested feedback
as to other NBAA members' experiences with IBX Jets.
Id. at 5.
IBX Jets nor IBX Air has operated any flights since January
2016. Pls.' SOF Responses ¶ 31. The companies are
no longer in business. Id. Coleman and the Joneses
no longer work in the charter business. Defs.' SOF ¶
point, IBX Jets or IBX Air refunded to the client $20, 000 of
the amount paid for the trip. ...