United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley Jr., District Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss [DN 8]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for
decision. For the following reasons, the case should be
STAYED until further notice.
Brewco, Incorporated (“Brewco”) manufactures and
sells industrial saws. On May 2, 2017, Brewco reached an
agreement with Defendant Hardwood Lumber, Inc.
(“Hardwood”) to sell a sawmill system capable of
milling scragg logs to produce cut stock lumber. Hardwood now
claims the sawmill system does not function with the
efficiency or capacity that Brewco warranted. For this
reason, on July 27, 2018, Hardwood filed a lawsuit in Barry
County Circuit Court in Missouri alleging breach of
warranties, negligent misrepresentation, and intentional
misrepresentation. After Hardwood filed suit in Missouri
state court but before Brewco was served with notice of that
lawsuit, Brewco filed its own lawsuit in Muhlenberg Circuit
Court in Kentucky on August 16, 2018, claiming breach of
contract and unjust enrichment against Hardwood.
Subsequently, both state claims were removed to federal
each federal district court has a motion to dismiss pending
before it. Brewco asks the Western District of Missouri to
dismiss Hardwood's lawsuit for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, to transfer venue
to Kentucky. Hardwood filed the present Motion to Dismiss
arguing that the Court should dismiss Brewco's case for
lack of personal jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(2) or, in the
alternative, transfer venue of the lawsuit to Missouri.
Although not argued by either party, the Court holds that it
should stay this lawsuit pursuant to the first-to-file rule.
Standard of Review
first-to-file rule is a prudential doctrine that grows out of
the need to manage overlapping litigation across multiple
districts.” Baatz v. Columbia Gas Transmissions,
LLC, 814 F.3d 785, 789 (6th Cir. 2016). It provides that
“when actions involving nearly identical parties and
issues have been filed in two different district courts, the
court in which the first suit was filed should generally
proceed to judgment.” Id. (quoting
Certified Restoration Dry Cleaning Network, LLC v. Tenke
Corp., 511 F.3d 535, 551 (6th Cir. 2007)) (internal
punctuation omitted). Courts in this circuit look to three
elements to determine whether the first-to-file rule applies:
(1) the chronology of events; (2) the similarity of the
parties involved; and (3) the similarity of the issues or
claims at stake. “If these three factors support
application of the rule, the court must also determine
whether any equitable considerations, such as evidence of
‘inequitable conduct, bad faith, anticipatory suits,
[or] forum shopping,' merit not applying the
first-to-file rule in a particular case.” Id.
(quoting Certified Restoration, 511 F.3d at 551-52).
case, Hardwood filed its lawsuit in Missouri state court
before Brewco filed in Kentucky. The parties are the same in
both lawsuits. Furthermore, although the claims are not
identical-Brewco claiming breach of contract and unjust
enrichment while Hardwood sues for breach of warranty and
misrepresentation-all the claims arise out of the sale of the
sawmill.Lastly, there is no evidence of inequitable
conduct, bad faith, anticipatory suits, or forum shopping.
For these reasons, the Western District of Missouri should be
the court to proceed to judgment.
the first-filed action is vulnerable to dismissal on
jurisdiction or statute of limitations grounds, the court in
the second-filed action should stay it or transfer it, rather
than outright dismiss it.” 17 Moore's Fed. Practice
- Civil § 111.13. There is a Motion to Dismiss before
the Western District of Missouri wherein Brewco moves
“to enforce the forum selection clause included in its
warranty and either dismiss [the] action or transfer it to
the Kentucky court.” (Hardwood v. Brewco, No.
3:18-CV-05088-DPR, DN 9 at 3). For that reason, rather
than dismiss the action outright, the Court will stay this
action pending the Western District of Missouri's
decision on the above-mentioned Motion to Dismiss.
reasons set forth above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case
should be STAYED until further notice.