United States District Court, S.D. New York
May 17, 2004.
BERT PAUL, Plaintiff, -against- RAYTEX FABRICS, INC., Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR MARRERO, District Judge
DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Bert Paul ("Paul") initiated this action pro se
against his former employer Raytex Fabrics, Inc. ("Raytex") alleging that
he was wrongfully terminated in violation of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq
("ADEA"). By letter dated April 26, 2004, Raytex informed the Court that
there is a parallel state court action pending before the New York
Supreme Court, New York County. See Raytex Fabrics, Inc. v.
Paul, Index No. 600904/03 (the "state court action"). In the state
court action, Raytex brought suit against Paul alleging breach of his
duties for diverting business away from Raytex to a competitor. Paul
answered the state court action and counterclaimed for breach of contract
and violations of New York labor law based upon Raytex's alleged failure
to pay Paul certain bonus monies owed to Paul. Raytex responds to Paul's
counterclaims in the state court action by arguing that the circumstances of his termination precludes Paul from collecting the
bonus monies at issue.
Raytex asks this Court to dismiss this action or otherwise abstain from
exercising jurisdiction in this case under the factors enunciated by the
United States Supreme Court in Colorado River Water Conservation
District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976). Paul opposes
Raytex's request, arguing that the Colorado River factors weigh
in favor of exercising jurisdiction.*fn1
Upon due consideration of the parties' arguments in light of the
Colorado River factors, the Court finds that abstention is
warranted in this case. It is clear that the pending state court action,
initiated prior to the action at bar, involves the same parties and the
same operatives facts, namely, the circumstances surrounding Paul's
termination from Raytex. The Court discerns no reason why the parties in
the state court action cannot properly adjudicate all of their claims
arising from these facts, including Paul's ADEA action. See
29 U.S.C. § 626 (c)(1) (stating that an aggrieved person may bring an
action under the ADEA in "any court of competent jurisdiction"); see
also Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 29
(1991). Moreover, the state court action was filed approximately 9 months
before this action and has progressed into discovery. For these and other reasons properly
considered under Colorado River, the Court finds that
abstention is appropriate in this case.
To ensure, however, that Paul will not be unfairly precluded from
asserting federal claims that were not adjudicated, the Court will
dismiss this action without prejudice pending final resolution of the
state court action. Paul may re-file an action in this Court to assert
any federal claims that survive the state court action.*fn2
The Court is mindful that abstention in these circumstances is the
exception rather than the rule. See Colorado River. 424 U.S. at
813. The Court finds, however, that the factors to be considered weigh in
favor of abstention in this case and that there is no reason to find that
Paul cannot adequately pursue his claims in the state court action.
For the reasons stated, it is hereby
ORDERED that the present action is dismissed without prejudice pending
final resolution of the parallel state court action between the parties
in Raytex Fabrics, Inc. v. Paul, New York Supreme Court, New
York County, Index No. 600904/03.
The Clerk of Court is directed to close this case. SO ORDERED.