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AZZOLINI v. MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL

United States District Court, S.D. New York


January 6, 2004.

JOSEPH AZZOLINI, Plaintiff, -against- MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant

The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD CASEY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Joseph Azzolini commenced this action against Marriott International, Inc. on June 13, 2003. Azzolini alleges that Marriott violated its written employment agreement with him when he was terminated on June 13, 1997. (See Dkt. No. 1: Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 6-11.) Marriott has moved to dismiss the Complaint under the doctrine of res judicata. Marriott's motion was deemed fully submitted on October 7, 2003. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

Prior to this action, on October 19, 1999, Azzolini commenced an action in the Southern District of New York against Marriott, alleging that he suffered racial discrimination when he was terminated as a parking associate.*fn1 On January 10, 2002, at the close of discovery, Judge Lawrence McKenna granted Marriott's unopposed motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, on July 21, 2003, Azzolini moved pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) to vacate the January 10, 2002 Order granting Marriott summary judgment and dismissing the Complaint. Despite Azzolini's Rule 60(b)(6) motion, that case, as it now stands, is closed and a final judgment has been Page 2 entered.*fn2

  Marriott has therefore asserted, and Azzolini has conceded, that this action is barred by the doctrine of res judicata. (See Dkt. No. 10: Pl. Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss, at 4 ("Plaintiff concedes that under the `transactional analysis' rule . . . his breach of contract claim is sufficiently related to the facts and transactions at issue in the 1999 lawsuit and therefore would otherwise be barred by the final judgment entered in that action.")) Because the 1999 lawsuit was (1) a final judgment on the merits, (2) issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, (3) in a case involving the same parties, and (4) involving the same nucleus of operative facts present here, the doctrine of res judicata bars this action. See Woods v. Potter, 63 Fed. Appx. 590 (2d Cir. 2003); In re Teltronics Servs., Inc., 762 F.2d 185, 190 (2d Cir. 1985).

  Despite this, Azzolini requests that the Court defer ruling on Marriott's motion until the Rule 60(b)(6) motion filed in the 1999 lawsuit is determined. The Court rejects this request. First, Rule 60(b)(6) does not foreclose a party from asserting a 12(b)(6) defense. As discussed above, the January 10, 2002 Order granting Marriott summary judgment remains a final judgment; it is therefore undisputed that the elements of res judicata are met. Second, Azzolini fails to acknowledge that in making his Rule 60(b)(6) motion, he could have requested permission to amend the Complaint in the 1999 lawsuit in the event that Judge McKenna vacated the dismissal. Such a request, in fact, would have better served the interest of judicial economy than Azzolini's chosen course: commencing this action and then requesting the Court to defer ruling on Marriott's motion to dismiss, despite the fact that the elements of res judicata are squarely satisfied in this case. Page 3

  Marriott's motion to dismiss, therefore, is GRANTED. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close the case.

  So Ordered


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