United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER GRANTING THE DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO
N. Scola, Jr., United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on the Defendant Home Depot
U.S.A., Inc.’s (“Home Depot”) motion to
dismiss. (ECF No. 5.) The Plaintiff Julian Depot Miami, LLC
(“Julian Depot”) leased a property to Home Depot
for twenty years. Julian Depot sues to recover for damages
incurred in a fire and subsequent demolition, alleging that
Home Depot is required by the lease to reconstruct the
building. Having considered the parties’ submissions,
the record, and the applicable law, the Court
grants Home Depot’s motion.
(ECF No. 5.)
Depot, in December 2006, entered into a twenty-year land
lease with Julian Depot’s predecessor-in-interest,
Tallahassee LLC. (ECF No. 28 ¶¶ 8-9.) Prior to
Julian Depot’s acquisition of the land, between 2007
and 2008, Home Depot constructed a retail center on the site,
whose value exceeds $6, 000, 000. (ECF No. 28 ¶¶
11-12.) Some four years later, in December 2012, Julian Depot
took title to the land from Tallahassee LLC and assumed the
lease. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Less than a year after
that, in November 2013, a fire damaged the store.
(Id. at ¶ 23.) According to the complaint, Home
Depot demolished the damaged store on February 11, 2014.
(Id. at ¶ 25.)
Depot’s complaint centers on Home Depot’s alleged
refusal to rebuild its home-improvement store following the
post-fire demolition and includes two counts: one seeking
breach of contract and one seeking indemnity. Julian Depot
alleges that Home Depot has breached the lease by failing to
obtain insurance that satisfies the requirements of the
lease. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-42.) It instead
elected to self-insure, and thus Home Depot is liable under
the lease as an insurer. (Id.) Julian Depot also
claims that Home Depot agreed to indemnify it “against
and from any and all damages…arising from or out of
any occurrence in or upon the Premises.” (Id.
at ¶ 49.)
Depot has previously filed suit in this Court, seeking
damages for Home Depot’s failure to rebuild the store
following the fire. See 1:17-cv-22475-RNS. The Court
dismissed Julian Depot’s breach of contract claim
because it did not sufficiently allege damages and allowed
its declaratory judgment claim to proceed. 1:17-cv-22475-RNS,
ECF No. 13. The Court denied Julian Depot’s motion for
leave to amend its complaint because it failed to show good
cause supporting the modification of the Court’s
scheduling order. 1:17-cv-22475-RNS, ECF No. 66. Finally, on
November 11, 2018, the Court granted Home Depot’s
motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of
Home Depot. 1:17-cv-22475-RNS, ECF No. 106-107.
Depot filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy
Court for the Southern District of New York, and it filed
this adversarial proceeding in the bankruptcy case as a core
proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 157(b). The bankruptcy
court transferred the case to this Court “in the
interest of justice or for the convenience of the
parties.” 28 U.S.C. § 1412.
Depot now moves to dismiss alleging that Julian Depot failed
to state a claim and that the complaint is barred by the
prohibition against claim splitting. (ECF No. 5 at 11-18.)
Julian Depot responds that the Court’s prior order
denying leave to amend was based on its scheduling order and
does not preclude it from bringing a separate action; it is
not splitting claims because it is suing under a different
provision of the lease; and, it sufficiently stated a claim.
(ECF No. 37-1 at 4-9.)
considering a motion to dismiss, filed under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), must accept all of the
complaint’s allegations as true, construing them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff. Pielage v.
McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008).
Although a pleading need only contain a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, a plaintiff must nevertheless articulate
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “But where the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)) (internal punctuation
omitted). A court must dismiss a plaintiff’s claims if
she fails to nudge her “claims across the line from
conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S.
Depot argues that the case should be dismissed because a
plaintiff is required “to assert all of its causes of
action arising from a common set of facts in one
lawsuit.” (ECF No. 5 at 23.) In coming to this
conclusion, it relies on the doctrine of improper claim
splitting. The Court agrees with Home Depot’s general
argument but notes that its reliance on claim splitting is
has been analyzed as an aspect of res judicata or claim
preclusion.” Vanover v. NCO Financial Services,
Inc., 857 F.3d 833, 841 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing
Khan v. H&R Block E. Enters., Inc., 2011 WL
3269440, at *6 (S.D. Fla. July 29, 2011) (Cooke, J.)
(“[F]ederal courts borrow from the res judicata test
for claim preclusion to determine whether [a]
plaintiff[‘s] claims were split improperly”)).
“While claim splitting and res judicata both promote
judicial economy and shield parties from vexatious and
duplicative litigation, claim splitting is more concerned
with the district court’s comprehensive management of
its docket, whereas res judicata focuses on protecting the
finality of judgments.” Vanover, 857 F.3d at
841. The Eleventh Circuit’s test for claim-splitting
“is not whether there is finality of judgment, but
whether the first suit, assuming it were final, would
preclude the second suit.” Id. This Court
entered a final judgment ...