United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY
THOMAS ANDERSON CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the motion of Defendant Precision Industries,
Inc. to stay the proceedings in this case. (ECF No. 15.)
Defendant contends that this lawsuit should not move forward
until all costs have been fully resolved and paid in
Plaintiff's previous lawsuit in Tennessee state court,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d). Plaintiff
has filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 20), to which
Defendant has replied (ECF No. 28), making the matter ripe
for adjudication. For the reasons discussed below,
Defendant's motion is DENIED.
State Court Proceedings
October 19, 2012, Ricardo Torres and Adriana Chavira filed
suit in the Circuit Court of Hardeman County, Tennessee
against Precision Industries, Terry Hedrick, and Vicki
Hedrick, claiming wrongful termination. (ECF No. 20-1.) The
plaintiffs alleged that Torres was fired from his employment
at Precision Industries because he hired an attorney and
attempted to file a workers' compensation claim after
being injured on the job. (Id. at 2.) They further
alleged that Chavira, Torres' co-habiting partner and
co-parent of three minor children, was subsequently fired
because of her close, intimate relationship with Torres.
(Id. at 3.) The case proceeded through discovery,
which included requests for admission (ECF No. 20-3),
depositions (ECF Nos. 20-4, 28-1), interrogatories (ECF No.
28-2), and requests for production (id.). On
December 23, 2013, the court granted summary judgment to the
defendants regarding Torres' retaliatory discharge claim
on standing grounds. (ECF No. 20-5.) Torres appealed this
decision to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which ruled in
his favor and reversed the trial court. See Torres v.
Precision Indus., No. W2014-00032-COA-R3CV, 2014 WL
3827820 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 5, 2014). By mid-2016, the trial
court had ruled on two motions in limine. (See ECF
Nos. 15-3, 15-5.) On October 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed a
motion for a voluntary dismissal, pursuant to Tennessee Rule
of Civil Procedure 40.01. (ECF No. 15-6.)
Case No. 1:16-cv-01319-STA-egb
filed suit in this Court on December 19, 2016, bringing
substantially the same claim as before, alleging wrongful
termination in connection with a claim for workers'
compensation under Tennessee common law. (ECF No. 1.) While
this case contains fewer parties than the action in state
court, it shares one plaintiff and one defendant from that
case. Defendant now moves to stay the proceedings in this
case and requests an order requiring that Plaintiff pay the
costs incurred in his state court case before this action
moves forward. (ECF No. 15.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d) provides that
plaintiff who previously dismissed an action in any court
files an action based on or including the same claim against
the same defendant, the court:
order the plaintiff to pay all or part of the costs of that
previous action; and
stay the proceedings until the plaintiff has complied.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(d). The purpose of the rule is “to
serve as a deterrent to forum shopping and vexatious
litigation, ” Duffy v. Ford Motor Co., 218
F.3d 623, 633 (6th Cir. 2000) (quoting Esquivel v.
Arau, 913 F.Supp. 1382, 1386 (C.D. Cal. 1996)),
“especially by plaintiffs who have suffered setbacks in
one court and dismiss to try their luck somewhere
else.” Rogers v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 230
F.3d 868, 874 (6th Cir. 2000) (quoting Robinson v.
Nelson, No. 98- 10802-MLW, 1999 WL 95720, at *2 (D.
Mass. Feb. 18, 1999)). To this end, a court may consider the
plaintiff's motive in dismissing the previous action and
a showing of bad faith is not required. Duffy, 218
F.3d at 633 (citing Loubier v. Modern Acoustics,
Inc., 178 F.R.D. 17, 22- 23 (D. Conn. 1998)).
“[A]n award under the rule lies within the sound
discretion of the trial court, ” Hython v. City of
Steubenville, 94 F.3d 644 (6th Cir. 1996), and “a
number of courts have expressed reluctance to exercise their
discretion to award costs under Rule 41(d) when the result
would be to deprive innocent plaintiffs of their day in court
due to their inability to pay the defendant's costs,
” Duffy, 218 F.3d at 632 (collecting
avers that Plaintiff has engaged in the sort of vexatious,
forum shopping conduct that Rule 41(d) seeks to deter.
Specifically, Defendant focuses on the state court's
denial of two motions in limine, in which Plaintiff sought to
exclude evidence of his immigration status,  his prior arrest
and conviction for theft, and “his psychological
treatment for fear of African-Americans.” (ECF No.
15-3; see ECF No. 15-5.) When Plaintiff moved for
permission to file an interlocutory appeal as to the motion
regarding his immigration status, the court ...