United States District Court, D. New Jersey
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For ARDAK AKISHEV, ZHANDOS ALIAKPAROV, ALEXEY BATALOV, IGOR GLAZUNOV, ANDREY KIRIK, NATALIA KIRIK, EVGENIY KONDRATUK, EDUARD LISITSYN, VIKTOR MANIASHIN, MIKHAIL MATVEEV, YURIY YAMKOVIY, ALLA YAMKOVAYA, IRINA GLAZUNOVA, Plaintiffs: ANNA V. BROWN, LEAD ATTORNEY, BROWN LEGAL CONSULTING LLC, CHERRY HILL, NJ.
For SERGEY KAPUSTIN, IRINA KAPUSTIN, MICHAEL GOLOVERYA, also known as MIKHAIL GOLOVERYA, G AUTO SALES, INC., GLOBAL AUTO, INC., EFFECT AUTO SALES, INC., GLOBAL CARS, INC., SK IMPORTS, INC., Defendants: JAMES STEVEN DOBIS, LEAD ATTORNEY, DOBIS RUSSELL & PETERSON, LIVINGSTON, NJ.
[Doc. Nos. 10, 16]
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ANN MARIE DONIO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
In this action, Defendants seek a stay of proceedings pending resolution of litigation in the Eastern District of New York or, alternatively, request that the Court conduct a scheduling and case management conference pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 prior to requiring Defendants to file a responsive pleading. (See Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants' Motion to Stay and for Alternative Relief (hereinafter, " Defs.' Br." ) [Doc. No. 10-1], 7, 10, 15.) Defendants also seek an extension of the time within which to answer, move, or otherwise reply to Plaintiffs' complaint. (Id.) In addition to opposing the pending motion, Plaintiffs have also moved for the entry of default in light of Defendants' purported failure to answer, move, or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' complaint. (See Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Stay and for Alternative Relief (hereinafter, " Pls.' Opp'n" ) [Doc. No. 15]; see also Request to Enter Default as to Defendants [Doc. No. 16].) The central issue raised by the submissions is whether the pending litigation in the Eastern District of New York warrants staying this litigation. The Court conducted oral argument concerning the pending motions on March 5, 2014. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that a stay of proceedings is not warranted and therefore denies Defendants' request for a stay without prejudice. The Court grants Defendants' request for an extension of time to answer, move, or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' complaint, and denies Plaintiffs' request for the entry of default without prejudice.
Plaintiffs, all " citizens of the former USSR Republics[,]" filed the initial complaint in this action on November 25, 2013. (See Complaint [Doc. No. 1], ¶ 1.) In their complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants operated an ongoing fraudulent scheme calculated " to defraud overseas" car buyers (including the individual Plaintiffs) in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § § 1961, et seq. (hereinafter, " RICO" ) (id. at ¶ ¶ 247-252, 270-286), the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1, et seq. (id. at ¶ ¶ 287-304), and the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, 49 U.S.C. § § 32701, et seq. (id. at ¶ ¶ 317-319), in addition to various other state law torts. (Id. at 320-354.) Plaintiffs generally allege that Defendants " lur[ed]" Plaintiffs into consummating transactions to purchase Defendants' vehicles through " misrepresenting [the] mileage, condition[,]" " location and ownership" of the vehicles, and then by coercing additional payments for the vehicles. (Pls.' Opp'n [Doc. No. 15], 1.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendants purportedly " fail[ed] to deliver" Plaintiffs' vehicles in accordance with the parties' purchase agreements. (Id.)
Defendants seek to stay this action for a period of six (6) months pending resolution
of litigation in the Eastern District of New York (hereinafter, the " E.D.N.Y. action" ). (See Defs.' Br. [Doc. No. 10-1], 8; Defs.' Reply [Doc. No. 18], 1.) Defendants assert that the E.D.N.Y. action addresses " [a]ll of the dispositive issues that underlie Plaintiffs' claims and allegations in this action[.]" (Defs.' Br. [Doc. No. 10-1], 2.) Specifically, Defendants assert that " the heart" of this action concerns Defendants' alleged breach of contract for Defendants' failure to deliver the vehicles purchased by Plaintiffs. (Id.) Defendants assert in this action that they fulfilled their obligations to transport the vehicles to Finland, but allege that the maritime commercial shipping defendants in the E.D.N.Y. action (" Michael Hitrinov and Empire United Lines" ) unlawfully detained and converted the vehicles in port in Finland. (Id. at 2-4.) Defendants therefore assert that the Court should stay this action in favor of the E.D.N.Y. action where the " the main issue" of who bears responsibility for the conversion of Plaintiffs' vehicles will be adjudicated. (Defs.' Reply [Doc. No. 18], 5-6.) Defendants accordingly seek to stay this litigation in order to avoid the alleged hardship associated with duplicative litigation. (Id. at 2, 9.)
Defendants alternatively seek to be exempted from their obligation to file a responsive pleading pending an initial scheduling conference pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16. (Id. at 10.) Defendants specifically propose that the Court address " issues relating to questions of applicable law, standing, sufficiency of the counts plead in the Complaint, and [the] existence of undisputed facts" prior to requiring Defendants to answer, move, or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' complaint. (Id. at 10.) Defendants' alternative request seeks ...