United States District Court, S.D. New York
March 19, 2004.
HAGEDORN & COMPANY, Plaintiff -against- SOFINOR FINANCE, LLC., DR. SALEM HABAL and SANDRA HABAL, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS GRIESA, Senior District Judge
This is a breach of contract action by a New York plaintiff against
Florida defendants. There are two actions now pending. The action
commenced first is the present action in the Southern District of New
York. The second action is brought by defendants against plaintiff in the
Southern District of Florida.
Defendants contend that the New York action should be dismissed. Their
main reason is that, since it was brought as a declaratory judgment
suit, the action was initiated improperly to anticipate the more
substantial action brought by defendants in Florida. Thus, defendants
move to dismiss or stay the New York action. Plaintiff opposes that
motion and cross-moves to enjoin defendants from prosecuting the Florida
Since the making of these motions, plaintiff has filed an amended
complaint, asserting causes of action seeking compensatory damages for
breach of contract and tortious interference with contract, as well as
Defendants' motion is denied. Plaintiff's cross-motion is also denied.
The court believes that plaintiff should be permitted to maintain the New
York action. The court further believes that there is no purpose to be
served by enjoining the Florida action. The courts will undoubtedly
cooperate to prevent unnecessary duplication of effort and expense.
A full recital of the complex and contradictory allegations on the
merits of the litigation is unnecessary. The litigants are surely
familiar with those contentions. It is sufficient to say that plaintiff
alleges that a contract was negotiated and made in New York, under which
defendants invested $500,000 in a project, which was to involve (to the
extent it went forward) obtaining an investment banker to issue $300
million in notes for the financing of certain motion pictures. Plaintiff
was to arrange for the financing and was also to take steps to gather
together a group to produce the motion pictures. The $500,000 was to be
used by plaintiff toward the cost of plaintiff's efforts. The contract
provided that, within the relatively short time specified, defendants
would receive a payment of $2.5 million, if certain conditions were
Defendants paid the $500,000. Plaintiff used $200,000 of this for
expenses. For reasons which are hotly disputed, the project did not come
to fruition. Defendants demanded their $50p,000 back. Plaintiff refunded
$300,000 and has declined to refund the other $200,000.
As described above, litigation ensued with the first suit filed in New
York and the second in Florida.
In view of the issues presented by the litigation, and on the basis of
the relevant case law, the court concludes that a dismissal of the
first-filed New York case is not justified. At the same time the court
will riot take the drastic step of enjoining the Florida action. The two
courts can coordinate to achieve the efficient handling of the
litigation. The motions are disposed of as announced above.
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