United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Docket
No. 5). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion
is GRANTED, and this action is DISMISSED.
action arises from a Lease Agreement between Plaintiff, The
Venue Event Center (“VEC”), and Defendants, SL
Airpark, LLC and SL Airpark II, LLC (“SL
Airpark”). In December of 2016, SL Airpark filed a
detainer action in the Davidson County General Sessions
Court, alleging that VEC was unlawfully detaining the subject
property and seeking “whatever sum is due and owing at
the date of trial plus reasonable attorney's fees”
and possession of the property (Docket No. 5-2). Unable to
achieve proper service upon VEC to recover damages,
Airpark, at the General Sessions Court hearing, sought
possession only. Id.
failed to appear at the General Sessions Court hearing, and
that court entered default judgment, awarding possession to
SL Airpark (Docket No. 5-2). VEC did not appeal that order.
VEC later filed a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment
(Docket No. 5-3), based upon improper service of
process. The General Sessions Court denied
VEC's motion and ordered VEC to vacate the property by
February 17, 2017 (Docket No. 5-2). VEC did not appeal that
VEC filed a new action in Davidson County Chancery Court,
alleging that SL Airpark breached the Lease Agreement by
evicting VEC and tortiously interfered with VEC's
business relationships. VEC also claimed that its
improvements to the property entitled it to quantum meruit
damages from SL Airpark. See Docket No. 1-1.
Airpark removed the action to this court based upon diversity
of citizenship. Neither side disputes that the claims herein
are state law claims and are governed by Tennessee law. SL
Airpark asks the court to dismiss this action based upon the
doctrine of res judicata. SL Airpark contends that
VEC's claims were or could have been raised in the
General Sessions action and, therefore, are barred.
purposes of a motion to dismiss, the Court must take all of
the factual allegations in the complaint as true.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face. Id. A claim
has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. Id. Threadbare recitals of the elements of
a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements,
do not suffice. Id. When there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and
then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief. Id. at 1950. A legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation need not be
accepted as true on a motion to dismiss, nor are recitations
of the elements of a cause of action sufficient. Fritz v.
Charter Township of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th
doctrine of res judicata bars a second suit between
the same parties or their privies on the same cause of action
with respect to all issues which were or could have been
litigated in the former suit. Creech v. Addington,
281 S.W.3d 363, 376 (Tenn. 2009); Davis v. JPMorgan Chase
Bank, 2015 WL 4422687 at * 3 (M.D. Tenn. July 16, 2015).
The primary purposes of the doctrine are to promote finality
in litigation, prevent inconsistent or contradictory
judgments, conserve legal resources, and protect litigants
from the cost and vexation of multiple lawsuits.
Creech, 281 S.W.3d at 376.
asserting res judicata must establish that: (1) the
underlying judgment was rendered by a court of competent
jurisdiction; (2) the same parties or their privies were
involved in both suits; (3) the same claim or cause of action
was asserted in both suits, and (4) the underlying judgment
was final and on the merits. Davis at * 3. There is
no dispute here that the General Sessions Court is a court of
competent jurisdiction, that the same parties were involved
in both suits, or that the underlying judgment was final and
on the merits. VEC argues that the same claim or cause of
action was not asserted in both suits.
suits will be deemed the same cause of action for purposes of
res judicata where they arise out of the same
transaction or a series of connected transactions.
Davis at * 4; Creech, 281 S.W.3d at 381.
Both the General Sessions action and this action arose from
the Lease Agreement between the parties and SL Airmark's
action to evict VEC from the property.
argues that res judicata should not apply because
the earlier action was for possession only and VEC seeks
damages in this action. VEC's claims for damages could
have been asserted as defenses in the General Sessions case,
however, and they were not. Even if SL Airmark limited its
claim to possession ...