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Chen v. U.S. Bank National Association

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

January 2, 2018

CHI CHEN, PI-CHUAN CHANG, PI-SHAN CHANG, SHUQIN CHEN, XIANGLI CHEN, BINGXIN FAN, QIANG GUO, JINSONG HUANG, LIHUA HUANG, JIAPING JIANG, XIAOWEN JIN, CHENMIN LI, JINGHAN LI, YUN LIU, XIAOWEN PAN, XIAOLI SONG, JINGUO WANG, JIE XIONG, BIN XU, LU YU, QIANG ZHAO, YANYI ZHAO, WENQUAN ZHI, QUAN ZHOU, YIQIN CHEN, KE LI, MING LI, LEI WANG, and ZHISHENG YUAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION; QUARTZBURG GOLD, LP; ISR CAPITAL, LLC; IDAHO STATE REGIONAL CENTER, LLC; and SIMA MUROFF, Defendants.

          Peter Ehrlichman, WSBA #6591 Shawn Larsen-Bright, WSBA #37066 Dorsey & Whitney LLP Attorneys for Defendant U.S. Bank National Association.

          Michael Black, admitted pro hac vice Rita M. Cornish, admitted pro hac vice April M. Medley, admitted pro hac vice Parr Brown Gee & Loveless and Lawrence Carl Locker, WSBA #15819 Steven O. Fortney, WSBA # 44704 Summit Law Group Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

          Eric B. Swartz, admitted pro hac vice Jones & Swartz PLLC and Thomas M. Brennan, WSBA #30662 Attorneys for Defendants Quartzburg Gold, LP, ISR Capital LLC, Idaho State Regional Center, LLC, and Sima Muroff.

          JOINT STATUS REPORT AND STIPULATED MOTION AND ORDER TO STRIKE CASE SCHEDULE AND TRIAL DATE

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         All parties to this action (the “Parties”) hereby respectfully submit this Joint Status Report and Stipulated Motion to Strike Case Schedule and Trial Date. As set forth herein, the Parties stipulate to and jointly request that the current case schedule and trial date be stricken, with the Parties to submit a further joint status report within ninety days. Good cause, including judicial economy and efficiency for the parties, supports this stipulated motion.

         Case Background

         This case and its companion case (Chi Chen et al. v. U.S. Bank National Association et al., Case No. 2:16-cv-1109-RSM, and Mao et al. v. U.S. Bank National Association et al. (Case No. 2:16-cv-1113-RSM), arise from an EB-5 immigration project and investment known as Quartzburg Gold, L.P. (“Quartzburg”).[1] The EB-5 program is a legal mechanism under which foreign nationals can apply for immigration preferences by making investments in job-creating enterprises in the United States. Plaintiffs are foreign citizens who deposited $500, 000 each to participate in this EB-5 project. The “Quartzburg Defendants” include Quartzburg (the limited partnership into which the Plaintiffs would invest); ISR Capital, LLC (the general partner of Quartzburg); Sima Muroff (the principal of ISR Capital, LLC); and Idaho State Regional Center, LLC (an affiliated entity that was the designated regional center for the Quartzburg EB-5 investment). Defendant U.S. Bank National Association was the escrow agent with respect to the Quartzburg escrow account into which Plaintiffs deposited their funds.

         Plaintiffs' immigration petitions associated with their participation in Quartzburg were initially denied by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). As discussed below, a lawsuit was successfully waged against USCIS by a group of investors, including many Plaintiffs, leading to a remand for further action by the government, which is currently pending.

         Meanwhile, cases that were brought against Defendants remain pending before this Court. Plaintiffs allege that their investment decision was procured by fraud and that their escrowed funds were improperly and prematurely released to Quartzburg. Defendants deny all liability.

         Initial Case Schedule and Trial Date

         On December 28, 2016, the Parties submitted their Joint Status Report and Discovery Plan. See Dkt. 77 (Chen); Dkt. 70 (Mao). The Parties jointly anticipated that the cases would be ready for trial by September 2018, estimated the trials to require twenty days, and requested that the trials of the two companion cases be set consecutively. Id. On January 6, 2017, this Court entered Orders Setting Trial Date and Related Dates (“Case Schedule”) in the two cases, setting September 10, 2018 as the trial date in Chen and October 1, 2018 as the trial date in Mao. See Dkt. 78 (Chen); Dkt. 72 (Mao).

         Subsequent Events

         Shortly after some initial discovery commenced, several subsequent events occurred that caused the parties to slow the pace of discovery and associated expense, particularly including the following.

         USCIS ...


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