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Bluewave Boat Rentals Ltd. v. Collins

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

October 3, 2016

BLUEWAVE BOAT RENTALS LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID A. COLLINS, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. NORTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on defendant David A. Collins's (“Collins”) motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (“Rule 12(b)(6) motion”) because plaintiff Bluewave Boat Rentals Ltd. (“Bluewave”) has failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted. Def.'s Mot. 1. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies Collins's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The instant dispute arises out of a breach of contract action that plaintiff Bluewave Boat Rentals Ltd. (“Bluewave”), a Bahamian limited liability company, filed against defendant David A. Collins (“Collins”), a resident of Charleston County, South Carolina. Compl. ¶ 1-2. On January 14, 2016, the Common Law and Equity Division of the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in Nassau, Commonwealth of the Bahamas (“Bahamian court”) issued a default judgment against Collins in the amount of $84, 366.04 Bahamian Dollars[1] for the breach of contract claim. Id. ¶ 5, Ex. A, Ex. B.

         On April 4, 2016, Bluewave filed the present action against Collins for the collection of the Bahamian court's default judgment. Compl. ¶ 5-6. A provision in the contract between Bluewave and Collins states that the renter of the boat will be “responsible for any legal costs or expenses connected with the collection of any debts incurred by any damage to boat or expenses incurred thereof during the time I have it rented, ” id., Ex. B, so Bluewave also asks for the legal fees involved in bringing this action. Id. ¶ 9. Bluewave argues that South Carolina should recognize and enforce the Bahamian court's money judgment against Collins under the traditional principles of international comity as “understood and applied by the courts of the United States and the State of South Carolina.” Id. ¶ 5-6.

         Collins filed the present motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted on May 23, 2016. Bluewave filed a response on June 23, 2016, to which Collins replied on July 12, 2016. The motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for the court's review.

         II. STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted “challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see also Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (“A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) [] does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.”). To be legally sufficient, a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion should not be granted unless it appears certain that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would support his claim and would entitle him to relief. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court should accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and should view the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245, 251 (4th Cir. 1999). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Collins brings a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, alleging that Bluewave's complaint does not meet the pleading standard in Iqbal, Twombly, and their progeny. Although difficult to decipher, the substantive legal argument behind Collins's 12(b)(6) motion appears to be that this court cannot grant the relief that Bluewave asks for-the $84, 366.04 money judgment issued by the Bahamian court and the legal fees associated with bringing this action. However, as explained below, there are cases from this court and other circuits as well as a South Carolina Attorney General's opinion that support the conclusion that South Carolina courts should apply principles of comity to enforce the judgments of foreign courts against South Carolina residents. Because the complaint states a claim to relief that is “plausible on its face, ” which is all that is required to survive a motion to dismiss, this court denies plaintiff's motion.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” In reviewing a 12(b)(6) motion, a court must determine whether it is plausible that the factual allegations in the complaint are enough to raise a right to relief above the “speculative level.” Monroe v. City of Charlottesville, 579 F .3d 380, 386 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Andrew v. Clark, 561 F.3d 261, 266 (4th Cir. 2009)).

         Collins argues that “[e]ach and every allegation of the complaint in this matter is conclusory. There is not one fact alleged in the complaint that would entitle it to ‘relief', i.e. support the judgment of the Bahamian court, the original jurisdiction thereof, or the original jurisdiction of this Court.” Def.'s Mot. 2. However, Collins does not offer any substantive legal arguments to support why the complaint is conclusory. A review of the complaint demonstrates that Bluewave has, in fact, articulated a cognizable basis for relief against Collins.

         Bluewave argues that South Carolina should recognize and enforce the money judgment of the Bahamian court against Collins. Compl. ¶ 5, Ex. A. The first exhibit attached to the complaint is a certified copy of the January 14, 2016 default judgment issued by the Bahamian court, which states that Collins must pay Bluewave “the sum of $84, 366.04.” Id. This exhibit supports Bluewave's assertion that the Bahamian court issued a judgment against Collins. The second exhibit is a copy of the contract between Bluewave and Collins, and includes a provision that the renter of the boat will be ‚Äúresponsible for any legal costs or expenses connected with the collection of any debts incurred by any damage to the boat or expenses incurred thereof during ...


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