Emergency Response Specialists Inc v. CSA Ocean Sciences Inc et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER For the reasons outlined within, the motion to stay (Doc. 42) and the motion for a protective order and to terminate deposition (Doc. 46) are DENIED. Signed by Judge William M Acker, Jr on 4/6/16. (SAC )
2016 Apr-06 PM 01:52
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CSA OCEAN SCIENCES, INC,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On March 24, 2016, Emergency Response Specialists, Inc.
(“ERS”) filed a motion to stay all proceedings and deadlines
until ownership and control of ERS can be determined between coowners of ERS, Lisa Moore Haywood and Carl Haywood, who are in
the midst of a divorce proceeding in the Circuit Court of Walker
County, Alabama. (Doc. 42).
ERS specifically references a state
court order entered on March 23, 2016 that “neither party shall
have any authority to conduct any business relative to any
pending ERS litigation absent an agreement otherwise between the
attorneys in this cause.” (Doc. 42 at 1; 42-1 at 1).
On March 31, 2016, CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc. (“CSA”) filed
its opposition to the stay asserting prejudice in delay,
particularly in light of its Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of ERS
scheduled for April 6, 2016. (Doc. 44).
In the alternative, CSA
requested that any stay be in place only until April 20, 2016,
the day after the upcoming hearing in the divorce proceeding.
(Doc. 44 at 2).
On April 4, 2016, ERS filed a reply reiterating
the impracticabilities of undetermined corporate control while
admitting that “ERS is not a party in the divorce.” (Doc. 45 at
Finally, on April 5, 2016, ERS filed a motion for protective
order and to terminate deposition. (Doc. 46) .
“[A] stay is as much a refusal to exercise federal
jurisdiction as a dismissal” under the abstention principles in
Colorado River.” Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr.
Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 28 (1983).
“The doctrine of abstention, under
which a District Court may decline to exercise or postpone the
exercise of its jurisdiction, is an extraordinary and narrow
exception to the duty of a District Court to adjudicate a
controversy properly before it . . . [and] cases can be justified
under this doctrine only in the exceptional circumstances . . .
clearly serv[ing] an important countervailing interest.” Colorado
River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800,
Abstention under these principles, referred to as
is the concept that ours “is a system in which
there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State
and National Governments, and in which the National Government,
anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights
and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that
will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the
States.” Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971).
“It is not
inconceivable, however, that in certain circumstances, the[se]
abstention principles . . . might be relevant in a case involving
elements of the domestic relationship . . . [such as] if a
federal suit were filed prior to effectuation of a divorce,
alimony, or child custody decree, and the suit depended on a
determination of the status of the parties.” Ankenbrandt v.
Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 705-06 (1992).
Both motions by ERS amount to a request by this court to
abstain from exercising its prerogative to adjudicate the aboveentitled controversy properly before it.
circumstances outlined in Ankenbrandt, ERS fails to demonstrate
the appropriate nexus between the matter before this court and
the divorce proceeding in the Circuit Court of Walker County.
Both motions wrongly conflate corporate management of ERS with
the corporation itself.
Upjohn Co. v. United States, 449 U.S.
ERS is not a party in the divorce proceeding nor is
either party in the divorce proceeding a party in this court.
Furthermore, even if such a nexus existed, ERS fails to
demonstrate why the exceptional circumstances for abstention are
It appears that the divorce proceedings have been
underway for over a year, and only on the eve of the Rule
30(b)(6) deposition does ERS demand a stay and termination of the
Such delay is exacerbated by the failure of ERS to
pursue in good faith the many other less extraordinary options
available to resolve the question of ownership.
Therefore, the motion to stay (Doc. 42) and the motion for a
protective order and to terminate deposition (Doc. 46) are
DONE this 6th day of April, 2016.
WILLIAM M. ACKER, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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