SunSouth Bank v. First NBC Bank, et al.
ORDER: it is ORDERED that HCB's 98 motion for injunction is DENIED; further ORDERED that the 103 Motion by SunSouth Bank to Strike, or, in the Alternative, to Dismiss HBC Financial Corp.'s Motion for Injunction and SunSouth Bank's 106 Motion for Leave to File Surreply to Reply Brief Filed by HCB Financial Corp. are DENIED AS MOOT. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 2/9/2018. (wcl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
FIRST NBC BANK, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:13-CV-379-WKW
On December 29, 2015, the court dismissed this action for lack of subjectmatter jurisdiction. (Docs. # 84, 85.) The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal
on appeal. SunSouth Bank v. First NBC Bank, 678 F. App’x 811 (11th Cir. 2017).
SunSouth Bank, the plaintiff in this action, later filed an action in Florida state court
against HCB Financial Corp. and First NBC Bank, the defendants in this action.
HCB now asks this court to enjoin SunSouth’s Florida state court action.
(Doc. # 98.) That action, HCB argues, is precluded by this court’s December 29,
2015 Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. # 84) and Final Judgment (Doc. # 85).
But rather than make those arguments to the Florida state court, HCB seeks an
injunction from this court pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, via the
so-called relitigation exception to the Anti-Injunction Act, id. § 2283.
The U.S. Supreme Court has made it inescapably clear that the relitigation
exception should be applied cautiously:
[I]n applying this exception, we have taken special care to keep it “strict
and narrow.” After all, a court does not usually “get to dictate to other
courts the preclusion consequences of its own judgment.” Deciding
whether and how prior litigation has preclusive effect is usually the
bailiwick of the second court . . . . So issuing an injunction under the
relitigation exception is resorting to heavy artillery. For that reason,
every benefit of the doubt goes toward the state court; an injunction can
issue only if preclusion is clear beyond peradventure.
Smith v. Bayer Corp., 564 U.S. 299, 306–07 (2011) (footnote omitted) (citations
Moreover, even assuming the relitigation exception gives this court the
authority to enjoin SunSouth’s Florida state court action, this court still has
discretion to decide whether to exercise that authority. 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a) (“The
Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs
necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the
usages and principles of law.” (emphasis added)); Chick Kam Choo v. Exxon Corp.,
486 U.S. 140, 151 (1988) (“[T]he fact that an injunction may issue under the AntiInjunction Act does not mean that it must issue.”).
Using that discretion, this court declines to exercise whatever authority it may
have to enjoin SunSouth’s Florida state court action based on general considerations
of comity and out of respect for the Florida state court in particular. But all is not
lost for HCB. Even assuming—without deciding or expressing any opinion on
HCB’s preclusion arguments—HCB is correct that this Court’s December 29, 2015
Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. # 84) and Final Judgment (Doc. # 85)
preclude SunSouth’s Florida state court action, HCB has offered no reason to doubt
that the Florida state court will give those rulings such preclusive effect. And even
if that court fails to do so, “an injunction is not the only way to correct a state trial
court’s erroneous refusal to give preclusive effect to a federal judgment. . . . ‘[T]he
state appellate courts and ultimately [the U.S. Supreme Court]’ can review and
reverse such a ruling.” Smith, 564 U.S. at 307 n.5 (citation omitted).
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that HCB’s motion for injunction (Doc. # 98)
is DENIED. It is further ORDERED that the Motion by SunSouth Bank to Strike,
or, in the Alternative, to Dismiss HBC Financial Corp.’s Motion for Injunction (Doc.
# 103) and SunSouth Bank’s Motion for Leave to File Surreply to Reply Brief Filed
by HCB Financial Corp. (Doc. # 106) are DENIED AS MOOT.
DONE this 9th day of February, 2018.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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