The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Leon Holmes United States District Judge
This case is now before the Court for the second time. Previously, Deonte McKnight, Jerome McKnight, Stephanie McKnight, Shawn McKnight, Angela Marshall, and Natasha Marshall filed their complaint against Bank of America in the Western Division of this District as Case No. 4:05CV00904. Bank of America filed a motion to abstain or dismiss, arguing in part that under Colorado River Waste Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 96 S.Ct. 1236, 47 L.Ed. 2d 483 (1976), this Court should abstain from hearing the case. The Court granted Bank of America's motion, abstained under the Colorado River doctrine, and dismissed the complaint. A copy of the Opinion and Order is attached to this Order as Exhibit A.
After the Court entered the Opinion and Order in 4:05CV00904, Deonte McKnight, Jerome McKnight, Stephanie McKnight, Shawn McKnight, Angela Marshall, and Natasha Marshall filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Phillips County, Arkansas, where the related probate proceedings are pending.*fn1 Thereafter, Bank of America removed the case to this Court. Bank of America has moved to dismiss or alternatively to stay the litigation on this new complaint, which it characterizes as "almost identical" to the complaint previously filed in this Court in Case No. 4:05CV00904. Plaintiffs have moved to remand this case to the Circuit Court of Phillips County and have also moved for sanctions.
Bank of America argues that the Court cannot remand this case because there is complete diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. To the contrary, the Court may remand a case under the abstention doctrine. Liebert Corp. v. Mazur, 2005 WL 1563202 (N.D. Ill., June 6, 2005). Because Bank of America previously argued, with success, that under the Colorado River doctrine this Court should abstain from hearing Case No. 4:05CV00904, and because the complaint here is "almost identical" to the complaint there, the Court will again abstain. Cf. Amtrust Inc. v. Larson, 388 F.3d 594, 600-01 (8th Cir. 2004) (explaining the doctrine of judicial estoppel).
For these reasons, plaintiffs' motion for remand (Docket #13) is GRANTED. All other pending motions are DENIED AS MOOT.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 19th day of January, 2006.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS WESTERN DIVISION
DEONTE McKNIGHT; JEROME McKNIGHT; STEPHANIE McKNIGHT; SHAWN McKNIGHT; ANGELA MARSHALL; and NATASHA MARSHALL PLAINTIFFS v. BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION DEFENDANT
Deonte McKnight, Jerome McKnight, Stephanie McKnight, Shawn McKnight, Angela Marshall, and Natasha Marshall brought this suit against the Bank of America alleging breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and conversion regarding the defendant's administration of a trust on behalf of the plaintiffs. Bank of America filed a motion to abstain or dismiss (Docket #5), arguing that under Colorado River Waste Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 96 S.Ct. 1236, 47 L.Ed. 2d 483 (1976), this Court should abstain from hearing the case. In the alternative, Bank of America argues that this Court should dismiss under Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923), and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed. 2d 206 (1983), because this Court would be forced to review the validity of prior orders issued by the Circuit Court of Phillips County. For the following reasons, this Court grants Bank of America's motion to abstain and denies Bank of America's motion to dismiss.
A 1987 house explosion killed two of the children of John McKnight, Lula McKnight, and Mary Ann Marshall and maimed two others-Stephanie McKnight and Natasha McKnight, both plaintiffs in this case. Four probate cases were filed in the Probate Court of Phillips County (now the Circuit Court of Phillips County)*fn2 in connection with the tort claims arising from the explosion. When all parties agreed upon a settlement, the probate court appointed Worthen Bank, Bank of America's predecessor, as trustee of the $898,269 settlement proceeds. In all four of the cases, the court in Phillips County entered orders approving an additional $50,000 tort settlement. John ...