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Machinery Solutions, Inc. v. Doosan Machine Tool America Corp.

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

February 2, 2018

Machinery Solutions, Inc., Frank Carl Amick, and James B. Dubose, Plaintiffs,
v.
Doosan Machine Tool America Corporation f/k/a Doosan Infracore America Corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiffs Machinery Solutions, Inc. (“MSI”), Frank Carl Amick and James B. Dubose (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed this action seeking a declaration that they do not owe $657, 678.00 to Defendant Doosan Machine Tool America Corporation (“DMTAC” or “Defendant”) f/k/a Doosan Infracore America Corporation. (ECF No. 1-1.)

         This matter is before this court by way of Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 59(e) Motion[1]). (ECF No. 14.) Specifically, Plaintiffs seek to alter or amend the court's Order entered on March 21, 2017 (the “March Order”), that granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 5) and dismissed the matter. Defendant opposes Plaintiffs' Motion to Alter or Amend asserting that they have failed to offer an appropriate basis for granting the requested relief. (ECF No. 15.) For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS IN PART Plaintiffs' Rule 59(e) Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND RELEVANT TO PENDING MOTION

         On June 27, 2016, Plaintiffs allege that Frank Carl Amick and James B. Dubose received a demand letter (the “June Letter”) from Defendant's attorney requesting that Plaintiffs pay $657, 678.00 to Defendant by July 5, 2016. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5 ¶ 2.) On July 1, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment action in the Lexington County (South Carolina) Court of Common Pleas captioned Machinery Solutions, Inc. v. Doosan Infracore America Corporation, No. 2016-CP-32-02317 (Lexington Cnty. C.P. July 1, 2016). Plaintiffs sought a declaration that MSI does not have to pay $657, 678.00 owed to Defendant because Plaintiffs have a pending lawsuit against Defendant for an alleged amount greater than $657, 678.00. Plaintiffs alleged that MSI is “entitled to await a determination of the amount of its own claim against Defendant before having to pay Defendant anything.” (ECF No. 1-1 at 6 ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs further alleged that MSI is “entitled to offset any amounts it might possibly owe to Defendant.” (Id. at ¶ 4.) In this regard, the only identifiable claim made by Plaintiffs was for offset, or “set-off” as it is also known.

         After removing the matter to this court on August 3, 2016 (ECF No. 1), Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss “on the grounds that the Complaint fails to state a plausible claim for relief and that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the Declaratory Judgment claim.” (ECF No. 5 at 1.) Thereafter, the court entered the March Order and dismissed Plaintiffs' Complaint with prejudice. (ECF No. 12.) On April 17, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Alter and Amend. (ECF No. 14.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) based on Defendant's allegations that there is complete diversity of citizenship between Plaintiffs and Defendant, and the amount in controversy herein exceeds the sum of Seventy-Five Thousand ($75, 000.00) Dollars, exclusive of interest and costs. (See ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶ 3.) MSI is a corporation organized under the laws of South Carolina with its principal place of business in Lexington County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 1-1 at 5 ¶ 1.) Frank Carl Amick, and James B. Dubose live and work in Lexington County, South Carolina. (Id.) Defendant is incorporated in the State of New York and has its principal place of business in Suwanee, Georgia. (ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶ 3a.) Moreover, the court is satisfied that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 in accordance with DMTAC's representation. (Id. at ¶ 3b.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Plaintiffs seek to alter or amend the March Order pursuant to Rule 59(e). Rule 59 allows a party to seek an alteration or amendment of a previous order of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). Under Rule 59(e), a court may “alter or amend the judgment if the movant shows either (1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence that was not available at trial, or (3) that there has been a clear error of law or a manifest injustice.” Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp., 599 F.3d 403, 407 (4th Cir. 2010). It is the moving party's burden to establish one of these three grounds in order to obtain relief. Loren Data Corp. v. GXS, Inc., 501 F. App'x 275, 285 (4th Cir. 2012). The decision whether to reconsider an order under Rule 59(e) is within the sound discretion of the district court. Hughes v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d 1376, 1382 (4th Cir. 1995). A motion to reconsider should not be used as a “vehicle for rearguing the law, raising new arguments, or petitioning a court to change its mind.” Lyles v. Reynolds, C/A No. 4:14-1063-TMC, 2016 WL 1427324, at *1 (D.S.C. Apr. 12, 2016) (citing Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. The Parties' Arguments

         In their Rule 59(e) Motion, Plaintiffs first argue that the March Order “in its current form could have the unintended consequence of preventing” them from raising set-off in Defendant's subsequently filed action[2] in which it seeks “damages that include the amount of money set forth in the June [] [L]etter.” (ECF No. 14-1 at 2-3.) Plaintiffs specify that by finding in the March Order (see ECF No. 12 at 8-9) that a claim for set-off requires a sum certain, the court “creates a potential problem” because Defendant “may attempt to argue that the Court's ruling in the Motion to Dismiss in this action precludes MSI from asserting its set-off claim as a defense in [the subsequently filed] Case 2.” (ECF No. 14-1 at 3.) Therefore, Plaintiffs ask the court to amend the March Order to remove the finding that set-off requires a sum certain.

         Plaintiffs next assert that the March Order's finding that set-off requires a sum certain “is too restrictive and does not constitute the law of South Carolina.” (Id. at 2.) Plaintiffs argue that the court's citation to Holley v. Rabb, 46 S.C.L. 185, 187 (S.C. 1859) (see ECF No. 12 at 9), was erroneous because the case “does not stand for the proposition that the exact amount of a set-off must be known in order to assert a set-off defense.” (Id. at 5.) Plaintiffs further argue that Bryce v. Parker, 11 S.C. 337, 341 (1879), is “the law of this State” and supports the proposition “that a set-off defense is proper, even if the precise amount of the claimed set-off cannot be stated when the defense is asserted.” (ECF No. 14-1 at 6.)

         Finally, Plaintiffs argue that “MSI's decision to assert set-off as a claim rather than a defense was proper.” (ECF No. 14-1 at 2.) In support of their argument, Plaintiffs maintain that before Defendant filed Case 2, it was ...


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