United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING AS MOOT
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO PRIORITY
JURISDICTION OR TO STAY PURSUANT TO ABSTENTION
MATTER comes before the Court upon Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint to Compel Arbitration Pursuant to
Priority Jurisdiction, or Alternatively, Motion to Stay
Pursuant to the Abstention Doctrine and Motion to Extend
Deadline to Issue Scheduling Order, filed October 4, 2018
(Doc. 36). As an initial matter,
Defendants' request to delay the entry of a scheduling
order pending resolution of the dispositive motions before
the Court is moot, since the Court's docket indicates
that the scheduling conference has already been vacated.
See Doc. 44 (text entry vacating Oct. 23, 2018
remainder of the instant motion to dismiss raises
jurisdictional challenges to Plaintiffs' complaint, which
the Court herein also finds to be moot.
case stems from a wrongful death lawsuit in state court,
filed in the County of San Miguel, Fourth Judicial District
Court, involving the death of Carol Cantrell. See Doc. 21-1
(state court complaint). In that lawsuit, Marc Grano as
personal representative of Carol Cantrell's estate and
Jack Cantrell, Carol's brother, are suing Plaintiff Jerry
Williamson for Ms. Cantrell's allegedly wrongful death
from a fatal complication of untreated diabetes. Mr.
Williamson is member/owner of WW Healthcare, L.L.C. which
does business as Princeton Place, a skilled nursing facility
located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. On May 9, 2018, Plaintiff
Williamson (a defendant in the state court action) filed this
independent and separate federal action to compel arbitration
of all matters related to the care and treatment that Ms.
Cantrell received at Princeton Place. The federal lawsuit was
filed pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act
(“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. §§1-14 and subject to
this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§1332(a)(1). Defendants seek dismissal of
Plaintiffs' complaint on two grounds: (1) this Court
lacks priority jurisdiction; and (2) this Court should
abstain from exercising jurisdiction over this case under the
Colorado River Doctrine.
facts relevant to whether this federal case should be
dismissed are presented here in table form to provide a basis
for a clearer discussion:
State Court Case
Jan. 29, 2018
Grano filed the state court
complaint for wrongful death and loss of
consortium in the Fourth Judicial District, State
of New Mexico. The complaint alleged claims of
medical negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and
unfair trade practices. Doc. 36-1.
Feb. 28, 2018
Williamson and Winchester “(Princeton Place
Parties”) were added as defendants to the
state court case.
Mar. 29, 2018
Grano filed Sec. Am. Compl. in state court. Doc.
May 2, 2018
Princeton Place parties filed Answer to
Grano's Sec. Am. Comp.
May 9, 2018
Princeton Place parties filed this federal
lawsuit pursuant to the (“FAA”), 9
U.S.C. §§1-14 and subject to this
Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. §1332(a)(1). Sole cause of action
seeks to compel arbitration under the FAA.
May 11, 2018
Princeton Place parties filed a Motion for
Protective Order and Motion to Stay Proceedings
Pending Resolution of Federal Action to Compel
Arbitration or In the Alternative Motion to
Compel Arbitration See Doc. 21-3.
The motion was fully briefed on Sept. 18, 2018
and set for hearing in state court on Nov. 8,
2018. See Doc. 36-4 (in federal case).
Aug. 29, 2018
Grano filed a “Motion for Summary Judgment
on the Enforceability of the Alleged Arbitration
The motion was fully briefed on Sept. 27, 2018
and The motion was set for hearing in state court
on November 8, 2018. See Doc. 36-5 (in
Oct. 4, 2018
Grano filed instant Mot. to Dismiss Pursuant to
Priority Jurisdiction and to Abstain under
Colorado River Doctrine (Doc. 36)
The reply was filed Nov. 2, 2018 (Doc. 48).
Nov. 20, 2018
State Court Order granting Princeton Place
parties' Mot. to Stay Proceedings as to the
Princeton Place Defendants only, “pending a
disposition of the federal
encapsulate the pertinent facts above: two days after filing
this federal lawsuit to compel arbitration, the Princeton
Place parties filed a motion in the state court case to stay
proceedings (“state court motion to stay”)
pending this Court's disposition of the arbitration
issue. The state court motion to stay was fully briefed and
set for a November 8, 2018 hearing in state court about a
week before the federal Defendants filed the instant motion
to dismiss on jurisdictional and abstention grounds
(“federal motion to dismiss”). The federal motion
to dismiss was fully briefed on November 2, 2018-a week
before the state court hearing was set. Since completing of
briefing, neither party has advised the Court as to the
results of the state court hearing or whether a ruling has
been made on the state court motion to stay, and there is no
filing on the docket to indicate any changes to the posture
of the case.
Court was not inclined to consider this federal motion to
dismiss without the benefit of knowing whether a ruling has
been made in the state court motion to stay, and so inquired
about the status of the state court motion, utilizing a
search of the New Mexico Secure Court Case website. The Court
discovered that, as indicated in the table above, Judge
Aragon, the presiding judge in the state court case
acknowledged that Williamson and Winchester (the Princeton
Place parties) had filed a federal cause of action in federal
court seeking to compel arbitration of the claims asserted
against them by Mr. Grano and the Cantrells. See
Court's Ex. 1. Judge Aragon found that “neither
party nor the Court is served by both the federal court and
the state court proceeding on the same matter
simultaneously” and granted the Princeton Place
parties' motion to stay as to those parties only, pending
a disposition of the federal proceedings. Id.
point, it is plain that the postural background of this case
has changed. It is pointless to deliberate on whether this
Court lacks priority jurisdiction or whether this Court
should abstain under the Colorado River doctrine
when the state court proceeding can no longer proceed as a
result of Judge Aragon's issuance of a
stay. Defendants' motion will therefore be
denied as moot, and this federal case will proceed.
IS ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
Amended Complaint to Compel Arbitration Pursuant to Priority
Jurisdiction, or Alternatively, Motion to Stay Pursuant to
the Abstention Doctrine and Motion to Extend Deadline to
Issue Scheduling Order (Doc. 36) is
therefore DENIED AS MOOT for reasons described in this
Memorandum Opinion and Order.