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Hadassa Investment Security Nigeria, Ltd. v. Swiftships Shipbuilders, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

March 18, 2019

HADASSA INVESTMENT SECURITY NIGERIA, LTD.,
v.
SWIFTSHIPS SHIPBUILDERS, LLC ET AL.

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST, MAG. JUDGE

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is a Motion to Take Judicial Notice of the Spurgeon Case [Doc. No. 98] and a Second Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 99] filed by Plaintiff Hadassa Investment Security Nigeria, Ltd. (“Hadassa”). Defendant Swiftships, LLC opposes the motions. [Doc. Nos. 103 & 104]. Hadassa filed reply memoranda in support of its motions. [Doc. Nos. 106 & 107]. For the following reasons, Hadassa's Motion to Take Judicial Notice is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, but its Second Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Court previously recounted the facts in this case in ruling on Hadassa's first Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 94]. The Court incorporates those facts by reference.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Judicial Notice

         Federal Rule of Evidence 201 provides that the Court “may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it . . . is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or . . . can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.”

         In this case, Hadassa urges the Court to take judicial notice of Spurgeon v. LeLeux, Civil Action No. 6:11-1807 (W.D. La. 2019). Both Hadassa in support of its motion and Defendants in opposition to the motion appear to focus on this Court's ability to take judicial notice of another court's record. However, that is not the issue here. The issue is whether this Court can take judicial notice of facts in a related proceeding conducted by this same Court. In Taylor v. Charter Medical Corp., 162 F.3d 827 (5th Cir. 1998), the Fifth Circuit held, on a matter of first impression that a district court did not err in refusing to take judicial notice of “the factual findings of another court.Id. at 829, 831. In reaching that decision, the Fifth Circuit discussed Kinnett Dairies, Inc. v. J.C. Farrow, 580 F.2d 1260 (5th Cir. 1978). The Taylor court distinguished Kinnett:

In Kinnett, the plaintiff requested that the district court “take judicial notice of the record in [a separate, but related case] and asked the clerk to bring it into the courtroom particularly the discovery depositions. . . .” . . . The district court stated in its opinion that it had taken “judicial notice” of the subject material, but did not clarify of what exactly it had taken notice. On appeal, the defendant objected to the inclusion of the depositions and other evidence in the record. We rejected the defendant's argument, noting that the defendant (1) had not objected to the plaintiff's request for judicial notice in the district court and (2) had been granted the opportunity to submit its own evidence and to question those parties whose depositions were made part of the record. . . .In his brief, Taylor argues that, in so holding in Kinnett, we went beyond simply permitting a district court to take judicial notice of facts found true by another court, actually allowing the district court to take “as true certain evidence in depositions in a completely separate case.”
Taylor misreads Kinnett. In fact, the issue in Kinnett was not even properly categorized as one of judicial notice, despite the court's use of that term. A fact that has been judicially noticed is not subject to dispute by the opposing party- indeed, that is the very purpose of judicial notice. . . .The district court in Kinnett, however, did not accept the deposition testimony and evidence presented to it as true, but rather granted the defendant the opportunity to present counter-evidence and examine witnesses on the issues covered by the alleged judicially-noticed deposition testimony. . . The court did not, as Taylor asserts in his brief, take “as true certain evidence in depositions in a completely separate case.” It simply admitted into evidence deposition testimony taken in another case. Kinnett, therefore, in no way conflicts with our holding today that the district court did not err in refusing to take judicial notice of the Milonas courts' state actor determination.

Taylor, 162 F.3d at 831-32. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit was clear that there was a distinction between what the Kinnett did by allowing the admission of depositions and testimony from a related case and a request for judicial notice of another court's factual findings in another case.

         In Kinnett itself, the Fifth Circuit explained that:

Here counsel had requested the court to take judicial notice of material in its own files and asked the clerk to bring the record of prior proceedings into the courtroom. As Judge Weinstein has noted, “Courts are particularly apt to take notice of material in court files.” ...

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