Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wendella Sightseeing Co., Inc. v. Blount Boats, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

March 30, 2018

WENDELLA SIGHTSEEING CO., INC., Plaintiff,
v.
BLOUNT BOATS, INC., Defendant. BLOUNT BOATS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
WENDELLA SIGHTSEEING CO., INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief Judge.

         Before the Court in the first above-captioned case is Wendella Sightseeing Company, Inc., 's (“Wendella”) Motion to Remand, asking that its Miscellaneous Petition to Vacate the Arbitrators' Award be sent back to Providence County Superior Court. In the second above-captioned case, Wendella moves to dismiss on abstention grounds. Wendella requests that the Court dismiss Blount Boats, Inc., 's (“Blount”) Petition to Confirm Arbitral Award, in order to allow the Superior Court to consider both Wendella's Petition to Vacate and Blount's Petition to Confirm. Blount avers that remand is improper, but if the Court disagrees, that it should retain jurisdiction over Blount's Petition to Confirm. For the reasons that follow, Wendella's Motions are GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Blount is a Rhode Island company that builds boats. Wendella is an Illinois company that provides boat tours on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Between 2006 and 2012, Blount built for and delivered to Wendella three boats, to be used in its tour business, pursuant to three separate, but similar, construction contracts. Over time each of these boats - the M/V Wendella, M/V Linnea, and M/V Lila - proved defective, at least in Wendella's estimation. For example, the M/V Wendella allegedly jettisoned its rudder, and the M/V Linnea and M/V Lila were allegedly constructed of shoddy steel. When Wendella drove the M/V Lila into a dock, the Coast Guard's post-allision inspection of the boat noted sundry construction defects.

         In 2013, Wendella sued Blount in this Court. After Blount moved to compel arbitration pursuant to provisions in each of the three construction contracts, Wendella voluntarily dismissed its suit and submitted the dispute to the American Arbitration Association.

         Wendella's First Amended Statement of Claim (“FASC”) included three counts. The first, for fraudulent inducement, alleged that Blount made a representation that the M/V Lila would be substantially similar (i.e., a sister ship) to the M/V Wendella - and that this persuaded Wendella to enter the contract for the M/V Lila - when, in fact, Blount intentionally manufactured the M/V Lila using inferior materials. The second count alleged that Blount breached each of the three construction contracts by failing to manufacture the boats according to agreed-to specifications. The third and final count was for breach of the contracts' express warranties, and relied on the same alleged manufacturing defects.

         Although the arbitration panel found for Wendella on certain of its claims, it awarded Blount $807, 595.19. Unsatisfied, Wendella filed a Petition to Vacate the arbitration award in Providence County Superior Court pursuant to section 10-3-12 of the Rhode Island Arbitration Act (“RIAA”). Four days later, Blount filed a Petition to Confirm the award in this Court, and removed Wendella's Petition to Vacate.

         The fight now is over whether Wendella's Petition should be remanded, and if so, whether wise judicial administration weighs in favor of deferring all post-arbitral proceedings to state court.

         II. Discussion

         In support of its Motion to Remand, Wendella argues this Court has neither federal question nor admiralty jurisdiction over this case. It also contends that, even though the parties are diverse, Blount cannot remove as the in-forum party. If Wendella's case is remanded, it urges the Court to abstain from hearing Blount's Petition to Confirm.

         Blount, on the other hand, says that removal is appropriate here because the Court has federal question and admiralty jurisdiction, and in any event, Wendella waived its objection to diversity jurisdiction when it moved this Court to vacate the arbitration award. If remand is in the cards, Blount argues its Petition to Confirm should nevertheless remain in this Court.

         A. Remand

         There is no federal question jurisdiction over Wendella's Petition to Vacate. Federal district courts are vested with jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The well-pleaded complaint rule dictates that a suit “arises under” federal law “when the plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon [federal law].” Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908). Suits pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) - a federal law, no doubt - do not necessarily fall within federal jurisdiction. Even though it has generated a “body of federal substantive law . . . equally binding on state and federal courts, ” the FAA “bestows no federal jurisdiction but rather requires for access to a federal forum an independent jurisdictional basis over the parties' dispute.” Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 58-59 (2009) (brackets and quotation marks omitted).

         Therefore, Blount must find federal question jurisdiction someplace other than the FAA. And the First Circuit requires that this Court conduct its search for jurisdiction by “looking-through” Wendella's Petition to Vacate to the parties' underlying substantive dispute. Ortiz-Espinosa v. BBVA Sec. of P.R., Inc., 852 F.3d 36, 47 (1st Cir. 2017); accord Doscher v. Sea Port Grp. Sec., LLC, 832 F.3d 372, 388 (2d Cir. 2016) (“[A] federal district court faced with a § 10 petition may ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.