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Main Iron Works LLC v. Rolls Royce Marine North America, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 29, 2015

MAIN IRON WORKS LLC
v.
ROLLS ROYCE MARINE NORTH AMERICA, INC., SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS (applies to 14-2450)

JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (R. Doc. 40). For the following reasons, this Motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

This is a maritime action arising out of the repair of a vessel. Movants Harbor Docking & Towing Co. and Point Comfort Towing, Inc. (collectively "Movants") contracted with several entities for the construction of two vessels-the M/V Carl and M/V Pat. Specifically, Movants engaged Main Iron Works, LLC ("MIW") to build the vessels and Rolls-Royce Marine North America, Inc. ("Rolls Royce") to install a z-drive propulsion system in the boats (the "zdrive" or "thruster").

During a sea trial of the M/V Carl, the z-drive was damaged when it ingested a tire. MIW removed the tire and contacted Rolls Royce to repair the damage caused by the ingestion of the tire. Rolls Royce repaired the thruster and invoiced MIW for almost $450, 000. MIW refused to pay and filed a petition in state court for a declaratory judgment that it does not owe Rolls Royce for the repairs.

After removing the action to this Court, Rolls Royce brought counterclaims against MIW requesting payment under various legal theories, including breach of contract, open account, promissory estoppel, negligent misrepresentation, quantum meruit, and unjust enrichment. Subsequently, Rolls Royce also filed a separate action against Movants, which was consolidated with the first action, seeking payment for the same repair under the theories of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment.

Prior to Rolls Royce's suit against Movants in this Court, Movants had brought suit in a state court in Calcasieu Parish against MIW, Rolls Royce, and other entities involved in the design and construction of the M/V Carl and M/V Pat (the "First-Filed Suit"). In that suit, Movants allege breach of contract and negligent design, construction, and repair of the vessels. One of the defendants in the First-Filed Suit removed the action to federal court, but the court subsequently granted a motion to remand. The suit remains pending in state court in Calcasieu Parish.

Prior to the remand of the First-Filed Suit becoming final, Movants filed a Motion to Dismiss, Transfer, or Stay the case pending in front of this Court based on the first-to-file rule. The motion was denied in light of the fact that the First-Filed Suit had since been remanded back to state court, and there was therefore no federal court to which this Court could transfer the matter. The Court expressly noted that Movants failed to brief any other theories under which it could consider transferring, dismissing, or staying this matter, and therefore, the Court declined to consider any.

Movants now ask this Court to dismiss Rolls Royce's quantum meruit and unjust enrichment claims for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1]

LEGAL STANDARD

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead enough facts "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."[2] A claim is "plausible on its face" when the pleaded facts allow the court to "[d]raw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."[3] A court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and must "draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor."[4] The Court need not, however, accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.[5]

To be legally sufficient, a complaint must establish more than a "sheer possibility" that the plaintiff's claims are true.[6] "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action'" will not suffice.[7] Rather, the complaint must contain enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiffs' claim.[8]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

As a threshold matter, Rolls Royce argues that Movants have waived their right to file this motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(g). Rule 12(g)(2) states that, with a few exceptions, "a party that makes a motion under [Rule 12] must not make another motion under this rule raising a defense or objection that was available to the party but omitted from its earlier motion."[9] Rolls Royce argues that Movants' first motion, which asked this Court to dismiss, transfer, or stay this litigation pursuant to the first-to-file rule, was tantamount to a Rule 12(b)(1) motion for abstention. Rolls Royce argues that because the First-Filed Suit had already been remanded back to state court at the time Movants filed their first motion, the only doctrine under which this Court could have dismissed, transferred, or stayed this suit was an abstention doctrine. While true, Movants' first motion was completely devoid of any mention of abstention, and instead, relied entirely on the first-to-file rule. Indeed, this Court's Order even noted that "Movants failed to brief this Court on any additional theories under which it should consider dismissing, transferring, or staying this litigation."[10] Accordingly, this Court declines to construe Movants' first motion as a Rule 12 motion for ...


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