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Thomas C. Cascio v. Mareva Nettles

August 30, 2011

THOMAS C. CASCIO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAREVA NETTLES, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID C. NETTLES;
THE ESTATE OF DAVID C. NETTLES; AND ROBERT FERGUSON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this personal injury action, filed by Thomas C. Cascio ("Plaintiff") against the three above-captioned defendants, is a motion filed by two of those Defendants--Mareva A. Nettles and the Estate of David C. Nettles ("the Nettles Defendants")--for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), based on the failure to assert a compulsory counterclaim as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a) and, alternatively, based on the doctrine of res judicata. (Dkt. No. 34.) For the reasons set forth below, the Nettles Defendants' motion is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Complaint

Generally, liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that, on October 10, 2006, at approximately 7:51 a.m. in the Town of Keen, New York, David C. Nettles recklessly operated his motor vehicle, which resulted in a "violent collision" between his motor vehicle and the motor vehicle operated by Plaintiff, causing Plaintiff to sustain serious and permanent bodily injuries, as defined by N.Y. Ins. Law § 5102, as well as property damage to his vehicle. (Dkt. No. 1.) Based on these factual allegations, Plaintiff's Complaint asserts the following four claims: (1) a claim of negligence against Defendant Nettles; (2) a claim of property damage against Defendant Nettles; (3) a claim of negligence against Defendant Robert Ferguson; (4) a claim of property damage against Defendant Robert Ferguson. (See generally id.) Familiarity with the remaining factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

B. The Nettles Defendants' Amended Answer

Among the defenses asserted by the Nettles Defendants in their Amended Answer are the following three defenses: (1) "Plaintiff's claims against the Nettles defendants fail by virtue of the doctrine of res judicata"; (2) "Plaintiff's claims against the Nettles defendants fail by virtue of the doctrine of collateral estoppel"; and (3) "Plaintiff's claims against the Nettles defendants fail by virtue of plaintiff's failure to plead any mandatory counterclaim required pursuant to FRCP Rule 13(a) for injury or damage to his person and/or property in the action brought by defendant Nettles in the Federal Court of the Northern District of New York under Case No. 8:08-CV-0063 in which plaintiff THOMAS C. CASCIO was a defendant." (Dkt. No. 32, at ¶¶ 17-19 [emphasis in original].) See also Estate of David C. Nettles v. Cascio, 08-CV-0063, Answer (N.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 26, 2008) ("Action 1").

C. The Nettles Defendants' Motion

Generally, in support of their motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Nettles Defendants argue as follows: (1) Plaintiff's claims are barred by Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a) because they were compulsory counterclaims that must have been, but were not, brought during the first action; and (2) alternatively, Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata. (See generally Dkt. No. 34, Attach. 2 [Nettles Defs.' Memo. of Law].)

Generally, in response to the Nettles Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings, Plaintiff argues as follows: (1) as an initial matter, the Nettles Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) must be analyzed as a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), which precludes considering matters outside the pleadings without converting the motion into one for summary judgment; (2) in any event, pursuant to the reasoning employed in Reynolds v. Hartford Accident and Indem. Co., 278 F. Supp. 331 (S.D.N.Y. 1967), Plaintiff's claims are not barred under Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a) because Action 1 was managed, controlled, and settled by Plaintiff's insurance company and not Plaintiff, who was merely a bystander under disability in Action 1; and (3) similarly, Plaintiff's claims are not barred by the doctrine of res judicata because Plaintiff was not a party to the settlement in Action 1. (See generally Dkt. No. 42 [Plf.'s Response Memo. of Law].)

Generally, in reply to Plaintiff's response, the Nettles Defendants argue as follows: (1) on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a court may dismiss a claim on either the ground that it was an impermissibly asserted counterclaim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a) or the ground of res judicata; (2) Plaintiff's claim was compulsory and is therefore barred by Fed. R. Civ. P. 13(a) and/or res judicata; and (3) the case of Reynolds v. Hartford Accident and Indem. Co., on which Plaintiff relies, was incorrectly decided, and in any event is distinguishable from the current action, which involves the right to bring unasserted counter-claims in a subsequent, not simultaneous, action. (See generally Dkt. No. 44 [Nettles Defs.' Reply Memo. of Law].)*fn1

II. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Legal Standard Governing Judgments on the Pleadings

"After the pleadings are closed . . . a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) is governed by the same standard as is the standard governing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Maggette v. Dalsheim, 709 F.2d 800, 801 (2d Cir. 1983). For the sake of brevity, the Court will not recite that well-known standard in this Decision and Order, which again is intended primarily for the review of the parties. Rather, the Court will elaborate on the standard governing ...


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