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Williamson v. Recovery Limited Partnership

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

March 30, 2017

MICHAEL WILLIAMSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
RECOVERY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, et al., Defendants.

          Kemp Magistrate Judge.

          ORDER

          ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the Williamson Plaintiffs' motion for discovery (Doc. 1072) and motion to set a trial date (Doc. 1073). For the reasons that follow, and in the interest of judicial comity and judicial efficiency, the Court DENIES both motions while the Recovery Limited Partnership receivership proceeds in state court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case has a long, interesting, but, by now, tortured history. Federal and state courts from Ohio and up and down the Atlantic Seaboard have recounted many of the facts in various opinions over the years. As this Court recently noted:

The three-minute version of events is that Defendant Thomas G. Thompson discovered a shipwrecked steamer, the S.S. Central America, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina; raised funds to finance a salvage operation (the ship was transporting gold to New York); actually salvaged some of the gold; did not pay his crew or his investors; disappeared with substantial assets; was located after a long search; has been held [and remains] in criminal and civil contempt of this Court; and has not provided complete information as to the whereabouts of some or all of the misappropriated assets.

Williamson v. Recovery Ltd. P'ship, No. 2:06-cv-292, 2016 WL 4920773, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 15, 2016) (discussing the “initial find” and salvage from the Central America).

         The post-script to that three-minute version of events is that many of Thompson's former employees (the “Williamson Plaintiffs”), who were “hired to assist in the location and recovery of the Central America . . . as well as the company from which Thompson rented a side-scan sonar . . . . brought suit against Thompson and the board of directors of Columbus Exploration, LLC . . . and numerous business entities, including Recovery Limited, Columbus-America, and Columbus Exploration.” Williamson v. Recovery Ltd. P'ship, 731 F.3d 608, 616 (6th Cir. 2013). The Williamson Plaintiffs “demanded monetary relief for breach of their non-disclosure agreements, conversion of the recovered gold, and breach of fiduciary duty, ” and they ultimately ended up in this Court by virtue of its Admiralty Jurisdiction. See id.

         From 2006 until now, the Williamson Plaintiffs' suit wound its way through various stages of pre-trial litigation and interlocutory appeals to the Sixth Circuit. See Id . at 616-17; see also, e.g., Williamson v. Recovery Ltd. P'ship, 826 F.3d 297, 298-99 (6th Cir. 2016). Although this suit once stood on the doorsteps of trial, the defendants' July 2011 appeal to the Sixth Circuit regarding this Court's ruling on various motions for summary judgment forestalled matters until October 2013. See Williamson, 731 F.3d at 608, 629. On October 13, 2013, the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion affirming this Court's summary judgment decision, in the process remanding matters for final adjudication. Id.

         Under Judge Sargus's prior ruling, the following issues remain for a bench trial:

1) Under the doctrine of laches, have Defendants been prejudiced by Plaintiffs' delay in filing suit or was any delay unreasonable?
2) Should the remaining Defendants be held jointly liable on the Lease Agreement and NDAs either on a theory of direct liability or through alter ego/veil piercing/reverse veil piercing theories?
3) Did Columbus Exploration assume the liabilities of RLP or should it be otherwise liable for the obligations of RLP as RLP's successor?
4) Did Thompson's group earn profits or a net recovery (as those terms are used in the NDAs and Lease Agreement) from the ...

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