United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division
CARLOS KNOX Plaintiff.
HORNBECK OFFSHORE SERVICES, LLC Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
M. EDISON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's Admiralty Rule E Motion for
Equitable Vacatur, for Damages Due to Wrongful Attachment,
and to Transfer and Consolidate ("Motion for
Miscellaneous Relief). See Dkt. 6. The Motion for
Miscellaneous Relief was referred to this Court pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636. See Dkt. 12.
16, 2019, the Court granted the Motion for Miscellaneous
Relief in part. The Court specifically ruled on the issue of
equitable vacatur but left "[t]he portions of the Motion
for Miscellaneous Relief seeking to transfer the case and
award damages" for future consideration. Dkt. 43 at 9.
24, 2019, Plaintiff Carlos Knox ("Knox") filed a
response to the Motion for Miscellaneous Relief, specifically
addressing the remaining issues of damages and transfer.
See Dkt. 49. Thus, the remainder of the Motion for
Miscellaneous Relief is now ripe.
TRANSFER AND CONSOLIDATION
discussed in the Order on Equitable Vacatur: Knox is a
resident of the Eastern District of Louisiana; Defendant
Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC ("Hornbeck
Services") maintains its principal place of business in
the Eastern District of Louisiana; and several months before
Knox filed this suit, Hornbeck Services, along with Hornbeck
Offshore Operators, LLC, filed a declaratory judgment action
based on the same controversy against Knox in the Eastern
District of Louisiana. See Dkt. 43 at 3. Based on
these facts, Hornbeck Services seeks to transfer and
consolidate this case with the matter currently "pending
in the Eastern District of Louisiana, before Judge Greg
Gerard Guidry and bearing civil action number
2:19-CV-00270-GGG-JCW." Dkt. 6-1 at 2.
response to the Motion for Miscellaneous Relief, Knox does
not contest Hornbeck Services's request to transfer and
consolidate. Indeed, Knox specifically "agrees to
Defendant's request to transfer and consolidate."
Id. at 2. Consequently, the Court recommends that
this case be transferred to the Eastern District of
Louisiana. The Court does not, however, order consolidation
because the Eastern District of Louisiana should be permitted
to determine whether consolidation is appropriate. See
Brocq v. Lane, No. 3:16-CV-2832-D, 2017 WL 1281129, at
*3 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 6, 2017) ("The second-filed court
transfers, rather than dismisses, so the first-filed court
may decide whether to dismiss, stay, transfer, or consolidate
the cases.") (citation omitted).
DUE TO WRONGFUL ATTACHMENT
Services contends that the Court should award it damages
because Knox wrongfully attached its property. Hornbeck
Services supports its request by detailing facts that
allegedly demonstrate that "[t]he actions and decisions
made by Knox and/or his counsel undoubtedly warrant an
inference from the Court of bad faith, malice, and an
absolute wanton disregard for the rights of Hornbeck."
Dkt. 6-1 at 11. Knox vigorously contests Hornbeck
Services's entitlement to such relief See Dkt.
the Court is recommending that this case be transferred to
the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Court finds that the
Eastern District of Louisiana should make the determination
on Hornbeck Services's request for damages. In this
Court's opinion, the Eastern District of Louisiana is
best positioned to determine whether any negative inferences
should be made based on Knox's decision to file this
suit, notwithstanding the pending suit in the Eastern
District of Louisiana. Accordingly, the Court recommends that
Hornbeck Services's request for damages due to wrongful
attachment be denied without prejudice to allow Hornbeck
Services to reassert its request in the Eastern District of
Louisiana upon completion of the case transfer.
Motion for Miscellaneous Relief (Dkt. 6) should be
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
the Court recommends Hornbeck Services's request to
transfer be GRANTED, and this case be
TRANSFERRED to the Eastern District of
Court also recommends that Hornbeck Services's request
for damages due to wrongful attachment be DENIED
without prejudice to allow Hornbeck Services to
reassert its request in the Eastern ...