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Ashmore v. Dodds

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

September 21, 2017

Beattie B. Ashmore, in his capacity as court-appointed receiver for Ronnie Gene Wilson and Atlantic Bullion and Coin, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Jim Dodds, Defendant.

          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 this action against Defendant Jim Dodds (“Defendant”) to recover grossly excessive payments received by Defendant as a return on his investment in the Wilson-AB&C Ponzi scheme.[1]

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. (ECF No. 101.) Specifically, Plaintiff requests that the court reconsider the Order certifying to the South Carolina Supreme Court the questions of law regarding South Carolina choice of law rules for fraudulent conveyance and unjust enrichment claims. (ECF No. 102.) Defendant opposes Plaintiff's Motion, asserting that it should be denied. (ECF No. 106.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 101).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is the court-appointed receiver in In Re: Receiver for Ronnie Gene Wilson and Atlantic Bullion & Coin, Inc., No. 8:12-cv-02078-JMC, ECF No. 1 (D.S.C. July 25, 2012), a case related to this matter. Plaintiff alleges that “[o]n February 29, 1996, Defendant made an initial ‘investment' [in the Wilson-AB&C Ponzi scheme] of $28, 300.00.” (ECF No. 1 ¶ 24.) “Subsequently, Defendant made eight additional ‘investments' totaling $306, 500.00 between December 2000 and April 2009, for a total investment of $334, 800.00.” (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff further alleges that “Defendant received $1, 532, 983.00 in returns [from the Wilson-AB&C Ponzi scheme] between March 2004 and December 2011, resulting in a profit of $1, 198, 183.00.” (Id. ¶ 26.)

         Based on his appointment as the receiver tasked with “locating, managing, recouping, and distributing the assets of the Wilson-AB&C investment scheme, ” Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendant on February 6, 2015, asserting claims for fraudulent conveyance (in violation of the Statute of Elizabeth, SC Code Ann. § 27-23-10 (2014) and/or the Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“FUFTA”), Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 726.101-726.201) and unjust enrichment. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 1, 38-52.)

         On May 19, 2017, the parties filed their Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 70, 71.) As relevant here, Plaintiff asserted that under South Carolina choice of law rules, South Carolina law applies to both his claim for fraudulent conveyance and his claim for unjust enrichment, and that Florida law does not apply to these claims. (ECF No. 73 at 6-9; see also ECF No. 70 at 6-12 (applying only South Carolina law to claims)). Defendant asserted that, under South Carolina choice of law rules, Florida law governs both claims, and that South Carolina law is inapplicable. (ECF No. 71 at 6-8; ECF No. 74 at 4; ECF No. 77 at 3-5).

         On July 5, 2017, the court denied in part Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, disposing of several arguments he raised. (ECF No. 95.) The court further determined that it would certify to the Supreme Court of South Carolina questions regarding whether the substantive law of South Carolina or Florida should apply to the claims brought by Plaintiff. (Id. at 37.) As a result, the court reserved ruling on the remainder of Defendant's Motion and on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment until after the Supreme Court answered or otherwise disposed of the certified questions. (Id.)

         On August 2, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Reconsideration, asserting that certification is unnecessary because he is entitled to summary judgment on his unjust enrichment claims, regardless of whether South Carolina or Florida law applies. (ECF No. 101.) Also on August 2, 2017, the court filed the Certification Order with the Supreme Court of South Carolina. (ECF No. 102.)

         On August 28, 2017, Defendants filed a response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion, asserting that the choice of South Carolina or Florida law could have an effect on the outcome of Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claims against Defendant because there are differences in both the applicable substantive law and the manner in which the limitations period is applied. (ECF No. 106.)

         On September 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Reply to Defendant's response, in large part reasserting his position in his Motion for Reconsideration. (ECF No. 110.) On September 18, 2017, Defendant filed a Sur-Reply to Plaintiff's Reply, in large part reasserting his position in his response in opposition to Plaintiff's Motion. (ECF No. 112.)

         The Supreme Court of South Carolina issued an Order agreeing to answer the questions certified to it by this court.[2] (ECF No. 113.)

         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. ...


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