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Ashmore v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

January 3, 2017

Beattie B. Ashmore, In His Capacity as Court-Appointed Receiver for Ronnie Gene Wilson and Atlantic Bullion and Coin, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Claude Williams, Jr., Realty Associates, and Williams Grandchildren's Partnership, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiff Beattie B. Ashmore (“Plaintiff”), in his capacity as court-appointed Receiver for Ronnie Gene Wilson (“Wilson”) and Atlantic Bullion and Coin, Inc. (“AB&C”), filed the instant action against Defendants Claude Williams, Jr. (“Williams”), Realty Associates (“RA”), and Williams Grandchildren's Partnership (“WGP”) (collectively “Defendants”) to recover grossly excessive payments received by Defendants as a return on their investment in the Wilson-AB&C Ponzi scheme.[1] (ECF No. 1.)

         This matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Reconsider (ECF No. 27) the Order entered by the court on August 25, 2016 (the “August Order”), denying without prejudice Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 8) Plaintiff's Complaint. (ECF No. 20 at 11.) Plaintiff opposes Defendants' Motion asserting that it “is without merit.” (ECF No. 28 at 5.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES Defendants' Motion to Reconsider.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION

         Plaintiff is the court appointed Receiver in In Re: Receiver for Ronnie Gene Wilson and Atlantic Bullion & Coin, Inc., C/A No. 8:12-cv-02078-JMC, ECF No. 1 (D.S.C. July 25, 2012), a case related to the instant matter. Plaintiff alleges that “[o]n September 7, 2007, Williams, individually, or on behalf of RA and/or WGP made an initial ‘investment' [in the Wilson-AB&C Ponzi scheme] of $52, 250.00.” (ECF No. 1 at 5 ¶ 26.) “Subsequently, Williams, individually, or on behalf of RA and/or WGP made additional ‘investments' totaling $715, 110.00 between May 2008 and February 2009, for a total investment of $767, 360.00.” (Id. at ¶ 27.) Plaintiff further alleges that “Williams, individually, or on behalf of RA and/or WGP received $1, 056, 952.00 in returns [from the Wilson-AB&C Ponzi scheme] between December 2008 and June 2009, resulting in a profit of $289, 592.00.” (Id. at ¶ 28.)

         Based on his appointment as Receiver tasked with “locating, managing, recouping, and distributing the assets of the Wilson-AB&C investment scheme, ” Plaintiff commenced the instant action against Defendants on September 10, 2015, asserting claims for fraudulent transfer (in violation of the Statute of Elizabeth, SC Code Ann. § 27-23-10 (2014) and/or the Georgia Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“GUFTA”), Ga. Code Ann. §§ 18-2-70-18-2-80) and unjust enrichment. (ECF No. 1 at 1 ¶ 1 & 6 ¶ 39-7 ¶ 53.) On November 30, 2015, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rules[2] 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 8.) Thereafter, on December 17, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 16), to which Defendants filed a Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 17) on January 4, 2016. After the court entered the August Order, Defendants moved for reconsideration on September 22, 2016. (ECF No. 27.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 pursuant to Plaintiff's allegation that the Complaint “is so related to the In Re Receiver, 8:12-CV-2078-JMC case and the underlying criminal case, United States v. Wilson, et al, 8:12-cr-00320[, ]” cases in which the court has jurisdiction, “that it forms part of the underlying case or controversy.” (ECF No. 1 at 1 ¶ 3.) The court may properly hear Plaintiff's state law claims for fraudulent transfer and unjust enrichment based on supplemental jurisdiction since these claims “are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         III. LEGAL STANDARD AND ANALYSIS

         In their Motion to Reconsider, Defendants did not identify the basis for their request. The court agrees with Plaintiff that Rule 54(b) provides the only appropriate avenue for the relief Defendants seek at this time. (See ECF No. 28 at 2-3.)

         A. Applicable Standard under Rule 54(b)

         Rule 54(b) provides the following:

When an action presents more than one claim for relief-whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim-or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

Id. Under Rule 54(b), the “district court retains the power to reconsider and modify its interlocutory judgments . . . at any time prior to final judgment when such is warranted.” Am. Canoe Ass'n v. Murphy Farms, Inc., 326 F.3d 505, 514-15 (4th Cir. 2003); see also Moses H. Cone Mem. Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 12 (1983) (noting that “every order short of a final decree is subject to reopening at the discretion of the district judge”). The Fourth Circuit has offered little guidance on the standard for evaluating a Rule 54(b) motion, but has held motions under Rule 54(b) are “not subject to the strict standards applicable to motions for reconsideration of a final judgment.” Am. Canoe Ass'n, 326 F.3d at 514; see also Fayetteville Investors v. Commercial Builders, Inc., 936 F.2d 1462, 1472 (4th Cir. 1991) (the Court found it “unnecessary to thoroughly express our views on the interplay of Rules 60, 59, and Rule 54”). In this regard, district courts in the Fourth Circuit, in analyzing the merits of a Rule 54 motion, look to the standards of motions under Rule 59 for guidance. See U.S. Home Corp. v. Settlers Crossing, LLC, C/A No. DKC 08-1863, 2012 WL 5193835, at *2 (D. Md. Oct. 18, 2012); R.E. Goodson Constr. Co., Inc. v. Int'l Paper Co., C/A No. 4:02-4184-RBH, 2006 WL 1677136, at *1 (D.S.C. June 14, 2006); Akeva L.L.C. v. Adidas Am., Inc., 385 F.Supp.2d 559, 565-66 (M.D. N.C. 2005). Therefore, reconsideration under Rule 54 is appropriate on the following grounds: (1) to follow an intervening change in controlling law; (2) on account of new evidence; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. Beyond Sys., Inc. v. Kraft Foods, Inc., C/A No. PJM-08-409, 2010 WL 3059344, at *2 (D. Md. Aug. 4, 2010) (“This three-part test shares the same three elements as the Fourth Circuit's test for amending an earlier judgment under Rule 59(e), but the elements are not applied with the same force when analyzing an[] interlocutory order.”) (citing Am. Canoe Ass'n, 326 F.3d at 514).

         B. The ...


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