Gable v. Nikou et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting 22 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim without prejudice to any party's right to assert factual positions it can support with admissible evidence.(Signed by Judge Nancy F Atlas) Parties notified.(TDR, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
NIKOU GROUP INVESTMENTS,
INC., et al.,
January 13, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-16-2927
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This case is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss First Amended
Counterclaim (“Motion to Dismiss”) [Doc. # 22] filed by Plaintiff Garrett Gable, to
which Defendants Nikou Group Investments, Inc. and Reza M. Nikou filed a
Response [Doc. # 26], and Plaintiff filed a Reply [Doc. # 28]. Having reviewed the
record and the applicable legal authorities, the Court grants the Motion to Dismiss
and dismisses Defendants’ First Amended Counterclaim [Doc. # 18].
Plaintiff purchased a vehicle from Defendants, which Plaintiff alleges had a
false odometer reading. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit asserting claims under the Federal
Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, 49 U.S.C. § 37201. Plaintiff also
asserted a breach of express warranty claim and a claim under the Texas Deceptive
Trade Practices Act.
It is Defendants’ position that it advised Plaintiff that the odometer reading may
not be accurate and the vehicle was reported as having some frame damage.
Defendants state that Plaintiff traveled to Houston to inspect the vehicle prior to
purchase. Defendants state that the contract of sale, the “window form,” and/or the
“Buyer’s Guide” stated that the vehicle was sold “as is.” Defendants state that Mr.
Nikou wrote on two pages of the “Buyer’s Guide” that there was a mileage
discrepancy and may not reflect the actual miles. Plaintiff purchased the vehicle and
drove it back to his home in Ohio.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in September 2016, more than three years after
purchasing the vehicle. Plaintiff alleges that the “Buyer’s Guide” did not have the
handwritten notes when it was given to him. Defendants filed their First Amended
Counterclaim under the Federal Declaratory Judgments Act (“DJA”), seeking a
declaration by the Court regarding numerous factual issues. Plaintiff filed his Motion
to Dismiss, which has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision.
The DJA authorizes a United States court to “declare the rights and other legal
relations of any interested party seeking such declaration” within its jurisdiction. See
28 U.S.C. § 2201. The Court has broad discretion to grant or decline declaratory
judgment. See Torch, Inc. v. LeBlanc, 947 F.2d 193, 194 (5th Cir. 1991); Everett Fin.,
Inc. v. Primary Residential Mortg., Inc., 2016 WL 7378937, *17 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 20,
2016). Indeed, the Supreme Court has characterized the DJA as “an authorization, not
a command.” Public Affairs Assocs., Inc. v. Rickover, 369 U.S. 111, 112 (1962). It
permits federal courts to declare a party’s rights, but does not impose a duty to do so.
District courts may exercise their discretion to decline to adjudicate
declaratory judgment actions that are duplicative of other claims in the same case. See
Everett, 2016 WL 7378937 at *18 (and cases cited therein); Am. Equip. Co. v. Turner
Bros. Crane & Rigging, LLC, 2014 WL 3543720, *4 (S.D. Tex. July 14, 2014) (and
cases cited therein).
Defendants do not seek a declaration of any “rights or other legal relations.”
Instead, Defendants ask the Court to make findings on disputed factual issues that are
relevant to Plaintiff’s claims in this lawsuit and to Defendants’ defense of those
claims. As a result, Defendants have failed to state a proper claim for declaratory
relief under the DJA. Because Defendants’ DJA counterclaim is duplicative of the
issues raised by Plaintiffs’ claims, the Court exercises its discretion not to entertain
the DJA claim. It is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss [Doc. # 22] is GRANTED and
Defendants’ First Amended Counterclaim [Doc. # 18] is DISMISSED without
prejudice to any party’s right to assert factual positions it can support with admissible
SIGNED at Houston, Texas, this 13th day of January, 2017.
NAN Y F. ATLAS
STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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