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Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. v. Evans Delivery Co.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 10, 2013

MITSUI O.S.K. LINES, LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
EVANS DELIVERY COMPANY, INC., et al., Defendants. EVANS DELIVERY COMPANY, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
MITSUI O.S.K. LINES, LTD., Defendant

Page 407

Appearances by: HILL RIVKINS LLP, By: Anthony J. Pruzinsky, Esq., Lauren E. Komsa, Esq., South Amboy, New Jersey, Attorneys for Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

GEORGE W. WRIGHT & ASSOCIATES, LLC, By: George W. Wright, Esq., Narinder S. Parmar, Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey, Attorneys for Defendants in Civ. No. 12-5595.

GEORGE W. WRIGHT & ASSOCIATES, LLC, By: George W. Wright, Esq., Narinder S. Parmar, Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey, Attorneys for Plaintiffs in Civ. No. 12-7186.

OPINION

Page 408

DICKINSON R. DEBEVOISE, Senior United States District Judge.

This matter arises out of multiple international cargo shipments, arranged by Plaintiff Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (" Mitsui" ), that were diverted from their intended inland destinations. On June 27, 2012, Mitsui filed a Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court against a host of motor carriers, alleging claims for fraud, violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and conversion (" Action 1" ). On July 7, 2012, Defendants removed the Action 1 Complaint to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § § 1441 and 1446. On September 28, 2012, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Action 1 Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(2). On October 5, 2012, Mitsui filed a Motion to Remand the Action 1 Complaint to New Jersey Superior Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447.

On November 19, 2012, Defendants filed a Complaint in this Court against Mitsui

Page 409

seeking declaratory relief against the claims asserted by Mitsui in the Action 1 Complaint (" Action 2" ). On March 13, 2013, Mitsui filed a Motion to Dismiss the Action 2 Complaint.

For the reasons set forth below, Mitsui's Motion to Remand the Action 1 Complaint is GRANTED. Consequently, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Action 1 Complaint is DENIED as moot. Mitsui's Motion to Dismiss the Action 2 Complaint is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Mitsui is a Japanese vessel operating common carrier that has an office in Edison, New Jersey. Defendants are motor carriers authorized by the Surface Transportation Board to transport goods across the United States. From January 2004 through December 2007, Mitsui utilized Defendants' services to transport cargo shipments from foreign countries to inland destinations in the United States.

In doing so, Mitsui would issue a transportation order (" TPO" ) to the motor carrier for each shipment of cargo. The TPO states (1) where the cargo is to be picked up; (2) where the cargo is to be delivered; and (3) the amount of money that Mitsui will pay the motor carrier for transporting the cargo to its destination. After delivering a piece of cargo in accordance with a TPO, the motor carrier would issue an invoice to Mitsui for its services. All such invoices in this case were sent to Mitsui's office in Edison, New Jersey. Mitsui would then issue payment on each invoice.

In or around February 2011, Mitsui discovered that Defendants had diverted a large number of cargo shipments from the destinations noted on their respective TPOs, but invoiced Mitsui as if those shipments had been delivered to their intended destinations. According to Mitsui, those shipments were diverted to locations that required Defendants to travel fewer miles than if they had transported the shipments to their intended destinations.

For example, Mitsui alleges that Lightening Transportation, Inc. (" Lightening" ) picked up cargo at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, in Norfolk, Virginia, for delivery to Bassett, Virginia--a distance of 236 miles--pursuant to a TPO issued by Mitsui. Instead of taking the cargo to Bassett, Virginia, Lightening transported it to Ridgeway, Virginia--a distance of 230 miles. Consequently, Lightening invoiced Mitsui for six miles that were never traveled. Defendants allegedly invoiced Mitsui in a similar manner thousands of times for small distances that they never traveled.

II. DISCUSSION

Mitsui now moves to remand the Action 1 Complaint to New Jersey Superior Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447. In doing so, it argues that (1) Federal question jurisdiction is lacking under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (" ICCTA" ) and the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (" COGSA" ); and (2) diversity jurisdiction does not provide a basis for removal. Defendants oppose the motion, arguing that (1) all shipments alleged in the Complaint are governed by the ICCTA; (2) removal under the ICCTA was proper under the doctrine of complete preemption; (3) admiralty jurisdiction provides an additional ground for removal; and (4) diversity jurisdiction provides yet another ground for removal. [1]

Page 410

Mitsui also moves to dismiss the Action 2 Complaint. In doing so, it argues that the Action 2 Complaint (1) fails to set forth any likelihood of future injury and therefore fails to satisfy Article III standing; (2) sets forth claims that are wholly redundant of those set forth by Action 1 Defendants in support of their Motion to Dismiss the Action 1 Complaint; and (3) violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 13(a). Action 2 Plaintiffs oppose the motion, contending that (1) the Action 2 Complaint makes clear that they are likely to suffer future economic injury arising out of the claims asserted in the Action 1 Complaint; (2) the issue of whether the claims set forth in the Action 2 Complaint are wholly redundant of those in the Action 1 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Action 1 Complaint is premature in light of Mitsui's Motion to Remand the Action 1 Complaint; (3) if the Action 1 Complaint is remanded to New Jersey Superior Court, the Colorado River doctrine does not require dismissal of the Action 2 Complaint; and (4) the Brillhart doctrine does not apply to the Action 2 Complaint.

A. Mitsui's Motion to Remand

In removing the Action 1 Complaint to this Court, Action 1 Defendants asserted three bases of jurisdiction: (1) federal question jurisdiction under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (" ICCTA)" ; (2) federal question jurisdiction under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (" COGSA" ); and (3) diversity jurisdiction. Mitsui seeks to remand the Action 1 Complaint to New Jersey Superior Court, contending that this ...


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