INDYCAR: Lingering Panther Racing suit dismissed

INDYCAR: Lingering Panther Racing suit dismissed

IndyCar

INDYCAR: Lingering Panther Racing suit dismissed

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Above: Oriol Servia in Panther’s National Guard car in 2013.

The ongoing legal dispute between the former Panther Racing IndyCar team, the IndyCar Series, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing over sponsorship from the National Guard came to a quiet end last week.

The long-in-the-tooth lawsuit from Panther Racing offshoot Panther Brands claimed IndyCar and RLL conspired with sponsorship management firm Docupak to win the lucrative National Guard contract for the 2014 IndyCar Series season.

“Believing that RLL Racing had conspired with IndyCar and a bid management agency called Docupak to persuade the Guard to sponsor RLL Racing instead of Panther, Panther brought suit in state court against RLL Racing, Docupak, IndyCar, and active‐duty Guard member John Metzler, who acted as the liaison between the Guard and Panther,” 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Wood wrote in his June 27 finding.

Panther and RLL made various filings since the original complaint was submitted by Panther which moved the proceedings from district to federal court to strengthen each party’s chances of winning.

The complaint had become the subject of a jurisdictional volley between both sides, and according to Chief Judge Wood, the latest amendment – from Panther – which took the complaint out of federal court left it “in the wrong court.”

Panther’s updated complaint dropped the United States and John Metzler, a National Guard member who served as a go-between for RLL and the military branch, which allowed the complaint to be heard by a new panel of judges with jurisdiction on the district level.

As Wood wrote, it was a procedural misstep that led the court to dismiss the case:

“The defendants removed the case to federal court, where the United States was substituted as a party for Metzler, see 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d); Panther then filed an amended complaint that did not name either Metzler or the United States. The district court dismissed the complaint against RLL Racing, IndyCar, and Docupak pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and found the United States’s (sic) motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction moot. Because the basis for federal jurisdiction disappeared when Panther amended its complaint, we vacate the district court’s decision and remand for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.”

Click here to read the full finding of the judges panel.

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