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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA TAMPA DIVISION LUIS A. GARCIA SAZ and Wife, MARIA DEL ROCIO BURGOS GARCIA, Plaintiffs, vs. CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY RELIGIOUS TRUST; CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG SERVICE ORGANIZATION, INC.; CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY FLAG SHIP SERVICE ORGANIZATION, INC., d/b/a MAJESTIC CRUISE LINES; IAS ADMINISTRATIONS, INC.; U.S. IAS MEMBERS TRUST. Defendants. / PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO THE SCIENTOLOGY DEFENDANTS’ SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF THE MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION Plaintiffs, Luis A. Garcia Saz and Maria Del Rocio Burgos Garcia (the “Garcias”), in accordance with Rule 3.01(b) of the Local Rules for the Middle District of Florida, submit their memorandum in opposition to the supplemental memorandum in support of the motion to dismiss this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which was jointly filed by Defendants Church of Scientology Religious Trust (CSRT); Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc. (Flag); Church of Scientology Flag Ship Service Organization, Inc. (Ship), d/b/a Majestic Cruise Lines; IAS Administrations, Inc. (IAS); and U.S. IAS Members Trust (USIMT) (collectively referred to herein as the “Scientology Defendants”). CASE NO. 8:13-CV-220-T27 TBM
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I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT After full briefing of the Scientology Defendants’ motion to compel arbitration (conducted before a panel of Scientology arbitrators without any established arbitration procedures or principles), and after full briefing and an evidentiary hearing on their motion to disqualify all of the Garcias’ chosen counsel (directed to all three separate law firms), three of the Scientology Defendants raised for the first time the lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the discovery of their own citizenship. These actions serve as a necessary prelude to the Court’s determination that it should dismiss the jurisdictional spoilers (CSRT, USIMT, and IAS) in order to cure the jurisdictional defect and proceed with the Garcias’ claims. For the reasons set forth below, the law supports, and the long standing concepts of efficiency and judicial economy weigh decidedly in favor of, the Court (i) granting the Garcias’ Motion to Amend the Complaint and (ii) denying the Scientology Defendants’ motion to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Requiring dismissal of the action would impose unnecessary and wasteful burdens on the Garcias, the Court, and the other litigants waiting for the Court’s judicial attention.1 II. ARGUMENT [T]he question always is, or should be, when objection is taken to the jurisdiction of the court by reason of the citizenship of some of the parties, whether . . . they are indispensable parties, for if their interests are severable and a decree without prejudice to their rights may be made, the jurisdiction of the court should be retained and the suit dismissed as to them. Horn v. Lockhart, 84 U.S. 570 (1873)
In their opposition, the Garcias do not dispute CSRT’s and USIMT’s sworn statements reflecting the non-diverse citizenship of their members, or IAS’s rather novel non-diverse citizenship based on conflicting documents placing its headquarters in Florida and California. The strangely belated nature of these jurisdictional assertions aside, the issue is efficiently and soundly resolved by the dismissal of these entities. 2
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Dismissal of the party that destroys diversity is a method of curing a jurisdictional defect which has long been an exception to the time-of-filing rule. See Newman-Green, Inc. v. AlfonzoLarrain, 490 U.S. 826 (U.S. 1989). The district court is best positioned to determine whether dismissal of a dispensable non-diverse party will prejudice any of the parties in the litigation. Id.; see also Iraola & CIA, S.A. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 232 F.3d 854, 860-61 (11th Cir. 2000) (dismissing defendant). In this case, none of the parties will be harmed by dismissal of CSRT, USIMT, and IAS. First, their presence does not provide the remaining Scientology Defendants with a tactical advantage. Discovery related to the non-diverse parties would be available even if they were not parties. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(a). Second, the spoiler defendants acted as representatives of Flag and Ship and the irrefutably close inter-relationship among the Scientology entities permits these entities to resolve amongst themselves a sharing of the damages. Alternatively, the Court can resolve this problem with a dismissal with prejudice, leaving Flag and Ship with the burden of pursuing the dismissed entities to obtain contribution or indemnity. By contrast, “nothing but a waste of time and resources would be engendered” by forcing the Garcias to start from scratch. Id. at 906. In addition, Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure invests district courts with the authority to allow a dispensable non-diverse party to be dropped at any time, even after judgment has been rendered. Specifically, Rule 21 provides that "[p]arties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any party or of its own initiative at any stage of the action and on such terms as are just." As the Supreme Court noted in Newman-Green, “Almost every modern Court of Appeals faced with this issue has concluded that it has the authority to dismiss a dispensable non-diverse party by virtue of Rule 21.” 490 U.S. at 833. The Court
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should exercise its authority in dismissing the non-diverse Scientology trusts and IAS under clear legal precedent and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21. Contrary to the Scientology Defendants’ contention, there is nothing that has occurred in the litigation that forbids dismissal of the non-diverse Scientology Defendants. The Garcias’ proposed Amended Complaint is not inconsistent with the original allegations. The roles of Flag and Ship as set forth in the Amended Complaint are not inconsistent with the roles alleged in the original Complaint. The practical reality is that Flag and Ship are the flagship defendants that wrongfully induced the Garcias to pay money for the benefit of Flag and Ship. (See, e.g., Amended Cmplt. ¶¶ 25, 27. 29, 52, 57-72) Despite the Scientology Defendants’ insistence, the Garcias should not be compelled “to jump through additional judicial hoops merely for the sake of hypertechnical jurisdictional purity.” Newman-Green, 490 U.S. at 837. III. CONCLUSION For all of the foregoing reasons, the law and judicial economy weigh in favor of the Court’s determination that diversity jurisdiction exists because the lack of diversity of three of the Scientology Defendants – CSRT, USIMT, and IAS – has been cured by their dismissal. Dated: April 16, 2014
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Respectfully submitted, s/ Ronald P. Weil_______________ Ronald P. Weil, Esq. Florida Bar No: 169966 Amanda M. McGovern Florida Bar No.: 964263 WEIL QUARANTA MCGOVERN, P.A. Southeast Financial Center, Suite 900 200 South Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33131 T: 305.372.5352 F: 305.372.5355 RPW@weillaw.net firstname.lastname@example.org - and Theodore Babbitt, Esq. Florida Bar No: 091146 BABBITT JOHNSON OSBORNE & LECLAINCHE, P.A. 1641 Worthington Road, Suite 100 West Palm Beach, FL 33409 T: 561.684.2500 F: 561.684.6308 email@example.com Counsel for Plaintiffs Luis A. Garcia Saz and Maria Del Rocio Burgos Garcia
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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
We hereby certify that, on April 16, 2014, we electronically filed the foregoing document with the Clerk of the Court using CM/ECF. We also certify that the foregoing document is being served this day on all counsel of record or pro se parties identified below in the manner specified, either via transmission of Notices of Electronic Filing generated by CM/ECF or in some other authorized manner for those counsel or parties who are not authorized to receive electronically Notices of Electronic Filings. F. Wallace Pope, Jr., Esq. FBN 124449 Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP P.O. Box 1368 Clearwater, FL 33757 Phone: (727) 461-1818 Fax: (727) 462-0365 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Counsel for Defendants Nathan M. Berman, Esq. FBN 329230 E-mail: email@example.com Lee Fugate, Esq. FBN 170928 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Jack E. Fernandez, Esq. FBN 843751 E-mail: email@example.com Mamie V. Wise, Esq. FBN 65570 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Zuckerman Spaeder LLP 101 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1200 Tampa, FL 33602 Phone: (813) 221-1010 Fax: (813) 223-7961 Counsel for Church of Scientology Religious Trust
Marie Tomassi, Esq. FBN 772062 Trenam Kember Scharf Barkin Frye, O’Neill & Mullis, P.A. Bank of America Building 200 Central Avenue, Suite 1600 St. Petersburg, FL 33701 Phone: (727) 820-3952 Fax: (727) 820-3972 E-mail: email@example.com Counsel for IAS Administrations, Inc. and U.S. IAS Members Trust
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