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REC Marine Logistics, L.L.C. v. Denoux

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 26, 2019

REC MARINE LOGISTICS, L.L.C.
v.
ANDRE DENOUX

         SECTION “L” (2)

          ORDER & REASONS

          ELDON E. FALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss. R. Doc. 15. Plaintiff opposes. R. Doc. 17. Having considered the parties' briefs and the applicable law, the Court now issues this Order & Reasons.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This declaratory judgment action arises out of injuries allegedly sustained by REC Marine Logistics, LLC (“REC”)'s employee, Andre Denoux. Mr. Denoux claims that he was injured while working for REC as a captain and member of the crew of the M/V Alexandra Danos. REC, however, denies that Mr. Denoux was injured, and seeks a declaration that it “is relieved of any obligation to pay (further) maintenance and cure benefits.” R. Doc. 1 at 3. After REC filed this declaratory judgment action, Mr. Denoux sued REC in the 16th Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Mary, asserting claims for negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure.

         II. PRESENT MOTION

         Mr. Denoux moves the Court to dismiss or stay this action pending resolution of the state-court suit, arguing that (1) the state-court suit will resolve all issues between the parties, and (2) REC brought this action in an attempt to deprive Mr. Denoux of his choice of forum. In opposition, REC argues that the state-court suit will “likely” be dismissed for improper venue, and this Court is convenient for all parties.

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         District courts enjoy broad discretion to decide, dismiss, or stay a declaratory judgment action. Wilton v. Seven Falls Co., 515 U.S. 277, 281 (1995). In exercising this discretion, the court must “address[] and balance[] the purposes of the Declaratory Judgment Act and the factors relevant to the abstention doctrine.” Travelers Ins. Co. v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, Inc., 996 F.2d 774, 778 (5th Cir. 1993). To that end, the court should consider:

(1) whether there is a pending state action in which all of the matters in controversy may be fully litigated;
(2) whether the plaintiff filed suit in anticipation of a lawsuit filed by the defendant;
(3) whether the plaintiff engaged in forum shopping in bringing the suit;
(4) whether possible inequities in allowing the declaratory plaintiff to gain precedence in time or to ...

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