United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY
S. Lasnik United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on “Defendants'
Stephen Yadvish and Yachtfish Marine, Inc.'s Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment.” Dkt. # 51. Plaintiffs
initiated this litigation to obtain possession of two vessels
that were, at the time, being held by defendants, to recover
damages allegedly caused by Yachtfish Marine, Inc.'s
conversion of the vessels, and to clear any and all maritime
liens asserted by defendants against the vessels. Defendants
argue that certain claims and issues have been finally
resolved against plaintiffs and seek partial summary judgment
based on a jury verdict in a related state court proceeding.
Having reviewed the memoranda, declarations, and exhibits
submitted by the parties,  the Court finds as follows:
First Cause of Action: Supplemental Rule D Possessory
have turned over possession of the vessels to plaintiffs. The
first claim for relief is therefore DISMISSED as moot.
Second Cause of Action: Conversion
state court proceeding, plaintiff Marquis International
Holdings, LLC (“MIH”) asserted a counterclaim for
conversion against defendants Yadvish and Yachtfish Marine,
Inc. (“YMI”) regarding their use and possession
of the vessel M SQUARED. Under the doctrine of claim preclusion,
a final judgment forecloses successive litigation of the same
claim between the same parties. Garity v. APWU Nat'l
Labor Org., 828 F.3d 848, 855 (9th Cir. 2016). The
doctrine applies when a claim is raised or could have been
raised in the prior action. Stewart v. U.S. Bancorp,
297 F.3d 953, 956 (9th Cir. 2002). Here, the conversion claim
against Yadvish and YMI was actually raised and then
abandoned. There is no explanation for why plaintiffs failed
to preserve the issue through trial: they may not revive the
claim at this point. Plaintiffs' conversion claim
regarding the vessel M SQUARED is therefore DISMISSED.
conversion claim against defendant Clark would not be barred
by res judicata. The claim was not asserted in the state
court proceeding and there is no indication that Clark had
asserted a lien or otherwise wilfully interfered with
plaintiffs' possessory rights until after the deadline
for adding parties in the state action had
passed. Regardless, plaintiffs have not asserted a
claim for conversion against Clark in this litigation. The
Second Cause of Action is specifically directed at defendant
YMI and may be pursued only against that defendant and only
with regards to the NOVA.
Third Cause of Action: Supplementary Rule D Declaratory
litigation, plaintiffs seek a declaration that Holmes is the
sole owner of the vessel NOVA and that MIH is the sole owner
of the vessel M SQUARED, free and clear of any maritime lien
asserted by defendants Yadvish, YMI, and/or Clark. In their
motion, defendants argued that this claim is barred by the
doctrine of claim preclusion and judicial estoppel. They
subsequently withdrew their motion on these grounds. Dkt. #
58 at 4.
extent that a conversion claim can be pursued in this
litigation, a monetary remedy in the form of damages may be
appropriate. Defendants' request for an order barring
plaintiffs from seeking damages in this lawsuit is DENIED.
state court jury determined that there was no joint venture
agreement or contract between Yadvish/YMI and Holmes/MIH, but
that Yadvish/YMI defrauded Holmes, resulting in damages of
$66, 196.50. These damages correspond to the amount Holmes
paid to transport the M SQUARED from Florida to Washington.
The jury found that there were no fraudulent or negligent
misrepresentations made to MIH.
argue that these findings necessarily resolved two factual
issues: (1) whether defendants agreed to perform work on the
M SQUARED at a reduced hourly rate and (2) whether defendants
agreed to cap the fees and expenses incurred in repairing the
M SQUARED. The jury was not asked either of these questions,
and the special verdict form is too vague to require the
inferences defendants would like to draw. It is entirely
possible that the jury found that Yadvish and/or YMI lied to
Holmes regarding the terms on which the repair work would be
done, causing Holmes to purchase the M SQUARED and have it
shipped to Washington. While that is not the only inference
one could glean from the special verdict form, it is a
reasonable explanation for the ...