RSUI Indemnity Company v. Adi Worldlink, LLC. d/b/a Worldlink et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting 10 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge John Corbett O'Meara. (WBar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
RSUI INDEMNITY COMPANY,
Case No. 16-13019
ADI WORLDLINK, L.L.C., d/b/a
WORLDLINK, ZENOBIA, ADI, AND
Honorable John Corbett O’Meara
TIMOTHY CURRY, DELANO BURTON,
and OZIAS FOSTER,
OPINION AND ORDER
GRANTING DEFENDANT’S OCTOBER 28, 2016 MOTION TO DISMISS
This matter came before the court on defendant ADI WorldLink’s October 28,
2016 motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion to transfer. Plaintiff RSUI
Indemnity Company filed a response November 18, 2016; and Defendant filed a reply
brief December 5, 2016. Oral argument was heard January 12, 2017.
Defendant ADI WorldLink (“WorldLink”) purchased insurance policies from
plaintiff RSUI Indemnity Company (“RSUI”) that were effective from December 31,
2013, to January 14, 2016. The policies provided coverage for settlements and
judgments stemming from civil actions or arbitration proceedings alleging wrongful
acts by WorldLink as an employer. The policies also required RSUI to defend any
such claims. WorldLink alleges that RSUI has wrongfully denied coverage on the
policies. RSUI filed this action for declaratory judgment in this court August 19,
2016, two weeks after WorldLink had sent RSUI a letter requesting RSUI to
reconsider the coverage denial. On August 29, 2016, WorldLink filed a complaint for
breach of contract and declaratory relief in the Eastern District of Texas, where
WorldLink is based and where RSUI sold WorldLink the policies at issue. The Texas
suit seeks damages in excess of three million dollars.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
“The Declaratory Judgment Act is an enabling Act, which confers a discretion
on the courts rather than an absolute right upon the litigant.” AmSouth Bank v. Dale,
386 F.3d 763, 784 (6th Cir. 2004) (affirming dismissal of first-filed declaratory
judgment complaint in favor of subsequently-filed coercive action). With few
exceptions, coercive actions should be given preference over declaratory judgment
actions when both cases present similar parties and issues. Clear!Blue, L.L.C. v. Clear
Blue, Inc., 521 F. Supp. 2d 612, 614 (E.D. Mich. 2007). There exists in the Sixth
Circuit “a presumption that the first filed declaratory judgment action should be
dismissed or stayed in favor of the substantive suit.” AmSouth, 386 F.3d at 791 n. 8.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has adopted a fivefactor test to determine when a district court should exercise jurisdiction over a
declaratory judgment: (1) whether the judgment would settle the controversy; (2)
whether the declaratory judgment action would serve a useful purpose in clarifying
the legal relations at issue; (3) whether the declaratory remedy is being used merely
for the purpose of “procedural fencing” or “to provide an arena for a race for res
judicata”; (4) whether the use of a declaratory action would increase friction between
our federal and state courts and improperly encroach on state jurisdiction; and (5)
whether there is an alternative remedy that is better or more effective. Id. at 785.
First, this declaratory judgment action will not fully resolve the controversy
between the parties because it does not include WorldLink’s claims for breach of
contract and bad faith against RSUI. Second, this action will not serve a useful
purpose because the Texas action encompasses all the issues in this action as well as
WorldLink’s claim for damages.
Third, “Courts take a dim view of declaratory plaintiffs who file their suits mere
days or weeks before the coercive suits filed by a ‘natural plaintiff’ and who seem to
have done so for the purpose of acquiring a favorable forum.” Id. at 788. In this case
RSUI field this declaratory relief action only two weeks after receiving WorldLink’s
demand letter, informing RSUI that WorldLink had retained insurance coverage
counsel and was reserving its right to sue for breach of the policy contract under Texas
law. RSUI responded to WorldLink’s demand letter to request additional information
only after filing this lawsuit. Given the timing and the facts that neither RSUI nor
WorldLink is based in Michigan, the policies were not issued in Michigan, and
Michigan law does not apply, it appears that Plaintiff may be attempting to acquire a
The fourth factor is inapplicable here, as there is not parallel state action.
Finally, the Texas litigation provides a better remedy because a coercive action is a
more effective litigation vehicle. WorldLink, along with various witnesses, resides
in Texas; and relevant documents are located in Texas. With the factors weighing in
favor of the parties proceeding with this litigation in Texas, this court will dismiss the
declaratory judgment action.
It is hereby ORDERED that Defendant’s October 28, 2016 motion to dismiss
s/John Corbett O'Meara
United States District Judge
Date: January 13, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel
of record on this date, January 13, 2017, using the ECF system.
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