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F&M Mafco, Inc. v. Ocean Marine Contractors, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 23, 2019

F&M MAFCO, INC.
v.
OCEAN MARINE CONTRACTORS, LLC and OCEAN MARINE RENTALS, LLC

         SECTION “F”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. EELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is intervenor ECapital LA Industrial I, LLC's motion to dismiss Count III of the plaintiff's counterclaim. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED in part, as to F&M's claim for treble damages, and DENIED in part, as to F&M's claim for actual damages under LUTPA.

         Background

         This lawsuit began as an action to enforce an Ohio default judgment but has evolved into a security rights dispute.

         In late summer of 2017, F&M Mafco, Inc. sued Ocean Marine Contractors, LLC and Ocean Marine Rentals, LLC in Ohio state court, asserting claims arising out of the performance of two contracts. The Ohio state court entered a default judgment in favor of F&M the following spring. When the Ocean Marine entities failed to satisfy that judgment, F&M turned to this Court for enforcement.

         In January of 2019, this Court granted F&M's motion for summary judgment, seeking recognition and enforcement of the Ohio default judgment pursuant to Louisiana's Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. F&M then moved for entry of a final judgment, contending it had become aware that two creditors assert claims in property that F&M owns and that relates to the subject of this action. ECapital LA Industrial I, LLC (one of the creditors asserting a security interest in three cranes that F&M allegedly purchased from the Ocean Marine entities) intervened for the limited purpose of opposing F&M's motion for entry of judgment. Finding that F&M requested relief beyond that provided for in the Ohio default judgment, the Court granted F&M's motion for entry of judgment, in part, only insofar as it sought relief consistent with this Court's January 9, 2019 Order and Reasons. The Court also entered a final judgment in F&M's favor on February 20, 2019.

         A month later, ECapital moved to intervene in this action to adjudicate its purported security interests in the cranes. The Court granted ECapital's unopposed motion to intervene on April 12, 2019. Because ECapital asserts a security interest in property implicated in the contractual disputes that gave rise to the Ohio default judgment, the Court found a sufficient factual overlap between this matter and ECapital's claim to justify permissive intervention under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b)(1)(B).

         Through its intervention complaint, ECapital requests the following relief: (1) recognition and enforcement of its security interests in the cranes; (2) seizure and sale of the cranes under ordinary process; and (3) interest and attorneys' fees.[1]

         In response, F&M filed an answer and counterclaim, in which it contests the validity of ECapital's security interests and alleges that ECapital “has wrongly seized F&M's Cranes, failed to maintain those cranes, and prevented F&M from exercising its ownership rights with regard to those cranes.” F&M claims that it purchased the cranes from the Ocean Marine entities on November 30, 2015 for $1, 000, 000, after which the equipment remained on premises controlled by OMC. It is further alleged that “[b]y October 15, 2018, ECapital had unilaterally seized F&M's Cranes and moved them from land controlled by OMC (or affiliated individuals or businesses) onto land owned by ECapital.” F&M submits that it “made amicable demand on ECapital to return F&M's Cranes to F&M, as rightful owner, ” but “ECapital refused and asked F&M to dation its property to ECapital.” Finally, F&M alleges that upon gaining access to inspect the cranes in March of 2019, it discovered that they had suffered considerable damage due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Based on this conduct, F&M asserts three causes of action against ECapital: (1) wrongful acts; (2) conversion; and (3) violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act. F&M also seeks to recover treble damages under LUTPA.

         ECapital now moves to dismiss Count III of F&M's counterclaim for failure to state a claim. It contends that all of F&M's counterclaims will necessarily fail upon the recognition of ECapital's continuing security interest in the cranes but urges the Court to dismiss F&M's LUTPA claim at the pleading stage.

         I.

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to move for dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Such a motion is rarely granted because it is viewed with disfavor. See Lowrey v. Tex. A & M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247 (5th Cir. 1997) (quoting Kaiser Aluminum & Chem. Sales, Inc. v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 677 F.2d 1045, 1050 (5th Cir. 1982)).

         Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Stated ...


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