February 23, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 16-CV-256 - Jon
E. DeGuilio, Judge.
Flaum, Sykes, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Hamilton, Circuit Judge.
telling, plaintiff Nicholas Knopick bought a $415, 000
jalopy, but to be more precise, a limited liability company
he controls bought the $415, 000 jalopy. This factual shift
determines the outcome of this case. Knopick has sued the
manufacturer under the vehicle's express limited
warranty. That warranty does not cover the vehicle because
the warranty excludes from coverage all vehicles purchased by
business entities-like limited liability companies. The
district court granted summary judgment to the manufacturer.
We affirm. I. Undisputed Facts for Summary Judgment
reviewing a grant of summary judgment, we review the facts
and draw all inferences from conflicting evidence in the
light reasonably most favorable to Knopick as the non-moving
party. Greengrass v. International Monetary Systems
Ltd., 776 F.3d 481, 485 (7th Cir. 2015). Given this
summary judgment lens, we do not vouch for the objective
truth of all of these facts. See KDC Foods, Inc. v. Gray,
Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A., 763 F.3d 743,
746 (7th Cir. 2014).
2012, Nicholas Knopick purchased a luxury recreational
vehicle (or "RV," as the contract documents refer
to it) from an independent dealer in Iowa for $414, 583. The
RV was manufactured by defendant Jayco, Inc. When filling out
the paperwork and taking title, Knopick signed the documents
on behalf of a company he alone controlled, Montana Freedom
Rider, LLC. Among the documents that Knopick signed for the
LLC was the registration form for Jayco's two-year
limited manufacturer's warranty registration.
limited warranty disclaims all implied warranties and
substitutes more restrictive terms. Three clauses in the
limited warranty are central to this case. First, the
warranty makes plain that it "does not cover …
any RV used for rental or other commercial purposes."
Second, to remove ambiguity from the phrase "commercial
purposes," the warranty explains that an RV "has
been used for commercial and/or business purposes if the RV
owner or user files a tax form claiming any business or
commercial tax benefit related to the RV, or if the RV is
purchased, registered or titled in a business name."
Finally, anticipating a disgruntled buyer's future claims
that the company might waive any of the warranty's
limitations by performing free repairs not actually required
by the warranty's terms, a separate clause states that
"performance of repairs regarding anything excluded from
coverage under this limited warranty shall be considered
'good will' repairs, and they will not alter the
express terms of this limited warranty."
immediately after purchasing the vehicle in July, Knopick
discovered he had purchased a $415, 000 lemon. According to
Knopick, the RV leaked, smelled of sewage, had paint issues,
and contained poorly installed features, including bedspreads
screwed into furniture and staples protruding from the
carpet. After taking possession of the vehicle in Iowa,
Knopick drove it to Jayco's factory in Indiana for
repairs. The following month, he picked up the RV in Indiana
intending to drive it to his home in Texas. Concerned about
continued problems with the RV, Knopick dropped it off at a
repair facility in Missouri, where a Jayco driver picked it
up and drove it back to Indiana for further repairs. In
December, Jayco had a driver deliver the coach to Knopick in
Arkansas. Knopick remained unsatisfied with the condition and
requested a full refund later that month, which Jayco
2015, Knopick sued Jayco in state court in Florida for breach
of warranty under state law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty
Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. Jayco removed the action
to federal court in Florida, and the case was then
transferred to the Northern District of Indiana. That
district court entered summary judgment for Jayco on all
claims in May 2017, finding that Knopick had no rights under
the express warranty because it was actually purchased by a
business entity. We review de novo the district
court's decision granting summary judgment.
Montgomery v. American Airlines, Inc., 626 F.3d 382,
389 (7th Cir. 2010).
decision to have his limited liability company purchase the
vehicle-for tax benefits or perhaps other reasons-poses
soluble issues of federal jurisdiction but bars his warranty
claims against Jayco on the merits.
begin with the jurisdictional questions. Under the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, federal district courts have the
authority to adjudicate disputes between consumers and
warrantors, but only if the amount in controversy is at least
$50, 000. 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(1)(B) & (3)(B).
Neither party raised the issue in the course of this
litigation, but we have an independent obligation to
determine that jurisdictional requirements are satisfied.
St. Paul Mercury Indemnity Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303
U.S. 283, 287-88 & n.10 (1938). In his original
complaint, Knopick alleged that he sought damages in excess
of $15, 000. In its notice of removal, Jayco claimed that ...