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Motion to Dismiss Third Party Complaint: D.S.C.

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  • Motion to Dismiss Third Party Complaint: D.S.C.

    In a recent from the Columbia division of SC, the court grants the Motion to Dismiss Third Party Complaint. By way of background, Plaintiff originally filed suit against Wateree and United Life Insurance alleging ERISA violations. United Life removed the case and Wateree asserted a Third Party Complaint against Coleman. As an interesting note:

    Previously, on March 8, 2016, Coleman filed a complaint against Wateree in South Carolina state court alleging that Wateree violated the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act.1 (ECF No. 25-2.) On April 19, 2016, Wateree filed its Answer to Coleman’s complaint, which included counterclaims against Coleman. (ECF No. 25-3.) Wateree’s counterclaims assert the identical facts and damages that Wateree asserted in its Third Party Complaint filed in this matter. (Id.; see also ECF No. 18.) Wateree’s counterclaims in Coleman’s state action assert that Coleman breached its employment contract with Wateree and its Board of Directors and that Coleman allegedly committed deceitful and fraudulent acts which caused Wateree actual financial damages in the amount of $1,200,000.00. (See ECF No. 25-2.) Coleman’s case against Wateree continues to remain on the active jury docket in Richland County.
    With respect to the parallel proceedings, the court held:

    The state court proceedings and the Third Party Complaint in this federal proceeding are identical and certainly parallel. The parties in the Third Party Complaint are identical to those in the state court proceeding, with the exception of the two individual named defendants, Donald Gist and Annette Tucker. In both the state and federal proceedings, Wateree asserts causes of action for breach of contract, breach of contract accompanied with fraudulent acts, and breach of fiduciary duty related to allegations related to Coleman’s employment with Wateree as its Chief Executive Officer. In fact, the actual language and wording of Wateree’s counterclaims and Third Party Complaint, including the demand for actual damages in the amount of $1,200,000.00, are nearly identical to each other.
    Therefore, it is clear that the Third Party Complaint in these proceedings are parallel to the state court counterclaims asserted by Wateree because they involve “substantially the same parties” litigating “substantially the same issues.” The parties and issues do not need to be identical for the proceedings to be considered parallel. See Caminiti &Iatarola, Ltd. v. Behnke Warehousing, Inc., 962 F.2d 698, 700 (7th Cir. 1992); AAR Int’l, Inc. v., 250 F.3d at 518 (7th Cir. 2001) (“The mere presence of additional parties or issues in one of the cases will not necessarily preclude a finding that they are parallel.”) Otherwise, “only litigants bereft of imagination would ever face the possibility of an unwanted abstention order, as virtually all cases could be framed to include additional issues or parties.” Ambrosia Coal v. Hector Carlos PagesMorales, 368 F.3d 1320, 1329-30 (11th Cir. 2004). “The question is not whether the suits are formally symmetrical, but whether there is a ‘substantial likelihood’ that the foreign litigation ‘will dispose of all claims presented in the federal case.’” AAR Int’l. Inc., 250 F.3d at 518 (quoting Day v. Union Mines Inc., 862 F.2d 652, 656 (7th Cir. 1988)).
    As aforementioned, the court ultimately granted the motion. The entire opinion is attached below.
    Attached Files