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Lake Charles Harbor & Terminal District v. Reynolds Metal Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

January 23, 2019

LAKE CHARLES HARBOR & TERMINAL DISTRICT
v.
REYNOLDS METAL CO., ET AL.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHLEEN KAY JUDGE

         Before the court are a Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint (“Motion to Amend”) [doc. 69], filed by plaintiff Lake Charles Harbor & Terminal District (“the Port”) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, a Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Oral Argument [doc. 42] filed under Rule 12(b)(2) by defendant Lonza Group, Ltd. (“Lonza Group”), and a Motion to Strike [doc. 47] by Lonza Group relating to the Port's original opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. All motions are opposed.

         The Motion to Dismiss has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of this court, and the Motions to Amend and Strike relate to it. Accordingly, we consider them together. For reasons stated below, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the Motion to Strike [doc. 47] be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, and that the Motion to Dismiss [doc. 42] be GRANTED and the Motion for Oral Argument [id.] DENIED, with all claims raised by the Port against Lonza Group DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of personal jurisdiction. Upon acceptance of that recommendation, it is further RECOMMENDED that the Motion to Amend [doc. 69] be DENIED.

         I.

         Background

         This litigation began with a complaint filed in this court by the Port against Reynolds Metal Company, LLC (“Reynolds”) on September 5, 2017. Doc. 1. The Port claims that Reynolds is liable for restoration of premises it formerly leased from the Port, which allegedly contained a 55-acre solid waste dump built by Consolidated Aluminum Corporation (“Consolidated”), from whom Reynolds assumed leases over that property in 1983. Id. The solid waste dump was allegedly closed by order of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources in 1984, but in 2005 the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (“LDEQ”) allegedly issued an administrative order, without notice to the Port, regarding the deteriorating condition of the dump. Id. at pp. 4-5, ¶¶ 10-13. Litigation was also commenced in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana between Consolidated and Reynolds, and various related parties, relating in relevant part to the condition of the solid waste dump (“Consolidated/Reynolds Action”).[1] Id. at p. 5, ¶ 14. The Port was not a party to this action, which resolved with a settlement agreement in October 2010. Id. at p. 5, ¶¶ 15-16. The Port alleges that it did not consent to the settlement and that the solid waste dump remains on the premises. Id. at p. 5, ¶¶ 17-18.

         On September 7, 2016, the Port and Reynolds entered into a partial release of leased property. Id. at p. 6, ¶ 19; see doc. 4, pp. 82-86. The Port alleges that the solid waste dump is on the released premises. Doc. 1, p. 6, ¶ 20. On May 10, 2017, the Port issued a repair and remediation demand to Reynolds, pursuant to the terms of the lease. Doc. 1, p. 6, ¶ 21; see doc. 4, pp. 88-90. The Port then filed the instant suit, invoking this court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and claiming that Reynolds is liable for damages and restoration of the leased premises. See doc. 1, pp. 1, 6-9, ¶¶ 2, 23-27.

         Reynolds filed a third party complaint against Lonza Group, a Swiss company, noting that Lonza Group had been a party to the Consolidated/Reynolds action. Doc. 10, p. 4, ¶¶ 14-15. As a result of the settlement in that action, Reynolds alleged, Lonza Group “assume[d] all past, present, and future liabilities” with respect to the solid waste dump and related hazards, and had also agreed to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend Reynolds from any claims arising out of those areas. Id. at pp. 5-6, ¶¶ 16-20 (alteration in original). It further alleged that Lonza Group had been given notice of the Port's claims but failed to act. Id. at p. 6, ¶¶ 21-23. Accordingly, it filed claims for declaratory relief, breach of contract, indemnity, and contribution against Lonza Group. Id. at pp. 6-13, ¶¶ 24-46. The Port then filed an amended complaint, alleging that Lonza Group was liable to it as successor in interest of Swiss Aluminum Ltd., a/k/a Alusuisse, a/k/a Alusuisse Holding Ltd. (“Alusuisse”) because Alusuisse had operational and administrative control over operations at the leased premises between 1967 and 1983 under an agreement with Consolidated and as parent company of Consolidated and its predecessor, Gulf Coast Aluminum. Doc. 12.

         Lonza Group then filed a motion to dismiss all claims raised against it in the Port's first amended complaint, alleging that the court lacks personal jurisdiction over it with respect to those claims. Doc. 42. Specifically, it alleges that it is not the successor in interest to Alusuisse and has no connection to any lease or claim made by the Port. Doc. 42, att. 1. The Port opposed the motion and Lonza Group moved to strike certain exhibits from its opposition as irrelevant, unauthenticated, and unfairly prejudicial. Doc. 47. The Port also sought jurisdictional discovery, which the court granted. Docs. 46, 55, 68. The period fixed for that discovery has now concluded and both parties have filed supplemental memoranda regarding the Motion to Dismiss. Docs. 70, 72. The Port also brings the instant motion to amend. Doc. 69. Lonza Group opposes amendment based on alleged undue delay, dilatory motive, undue prejudice, and futility. Doc. 73.

         II.

         Law & Application

         A. Motion to Strike

         In the Motion to Strike [doc. 47], Lonza Group seeks to exclude certain exhibits attached to the Port's original opposition [doc. 46] to the Motion to Dismiss as “incomplete, irrelevant, unauthenticated, unverified, and hearsay.” Doc. 47, att. 1, p.

1. These exhibits are 1. Exhibit A, Lonza Group's Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, regarding a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction that Lonza Group filed in the Reynolds/Consolidated litigation.
2. Exhibit B, Consolidated's Supplemental Responses and Objections to Alcoa Inc.'s First Set of Interrogatories, also drawn from the Reynolds/Consolidated litigation.
3. Exhibit C, Alcoa Inc.'s Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, relating to Lonza Group's motion to dismiss in the ...

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