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offshore Exploration & Prod. LLC v. Morgan Stanley Private Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 2, 2013

OFFSHORE EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MORGAN STANLEY PRIVATE BANK, N.A., ET AL., Defendants

Decided November 29, 2013

Page 309

For Offshore Exploration and Production, LLC, Plaintiff: David M Orta, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Washington, DC; Peter E. Calamari, LEAD ATTORNEY, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP, New York, NY; Daniel Salinas Serrano, PRO HAC VICE, Qwest, Inc., Denver, CO; Derek Lawrence Shaffer, Keith H. Forst, PRO HAC VICE, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Washington, DC; Jose Fernando Sanchez, DLA Piper LLP (Us, New York, NY.

For Morgan Stanley Private Bank, N.A., As successor to Morgan Stanley Trust, N.A., Defendant: David I. Zalman, Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP (NY), New York, NY.

For Ecopetrol S.A., Defendant: William H. Knull, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mayer Brown LLP, Washington, DC; Pablo Cesar Ferrante, PRO HAC VICE, Mayer Brown LLP, Houston, TX.

For Korea National Oil Corporation, Defendant: Anthony Jan-Huan Sun, Mark Putnam Gimbel, Covington & Burling LLP(NYC), New York, NY; Miguel Antonio Lopez Forastier, Covington & Burling, L.L.P. (DC), Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 310

OPINION AND ORDER

John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge.

The plaintiff, Offshore Exploration and Production, LLC (" Offshore" ), brings this action against defendants Korea National Oil Corporation (" KNOC" ), Ecopetrol S.A., and Morgan Stanley Private Bank, N.A. The Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that Morgan Stanley, acting as an Escrow Agent, must release to KNOC and Ecopetrol over $75 million from an escrow fund that Morgan Stanley Private Bank, N.A. now holds pursuant to an escrow agreement. An arbitration panel has already determined that Offshore must pay that amount to KNOC and Ecopetrol. However, KNOC and Ecopetrol contend that the money should not come from the escrow fund but rather should be paid independently by Offshore so as not to reduce the amount of the escrow fund that would otherwise be available for other obligations owed by Offshore to KNOC and Ecopetrol. KNOC and Ecopetrol contend that the parties agreed in a Stock Purchase Agreement to commit the resolution of this dispute to the arbitrators and that this action should be stayed or dismissed while the arbitrators decide the dispute.

The defendants move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) and the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 3, to stay or dismiss this proceeding pending arbitration. Offshore cross-moves for summary judgment on its declaratory judgment claim. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral

Page 311

Awards, 9 U.S.C. § 203, and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on diversity of citizenship. For the reasons explained below, this action should be stayed to allow the arbitrators to decide whether the dispute among the parties is subject to arbitration and, if it is, to decide the dispute. The plaintiff's motion for summary ...


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