BRYANT & ASSOCIATES, LLC d/b/a Bryant Enterprises, LLC, Plaintiff,
ARC Financial Services, LLC, d/b/a ARC RISK AND COMPLIANCE, and LORENZO MASI, Defendants
Heard in the Court of Appeals: October 9, 2014.
Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 27 January 2014 by Judge Louis Meyer in District Court, Wake County. No. 13-CVD-00536.
John M. Kirby, for plaintiff-appellant.
Brown Law LLP by Justin M. Osborn and Seth D. Beckley, for defendants-appellees.
STROUD, Judge. Judges GEER and BELL concur.
Bryant & Associates, LLC d/b/a Bryant Enterprises, LLC (" plaintiff" ) appeals from an order granting ARC Financial Services, LLC d/b/a ARC Risk and Compliance (" ARC" ) and Lorenzo Masi's motion to stay
pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-75.12 (2013). Finding no error, we affirm.
On 1 May 2011, plaintiff and ARC executed a Master Services Agreement (" MSA" ) in which plaintiff agreed to perform anti-money laundering consulting services for ARC. The parties agreed that the MSA is to be construed according to Delaware law. On 3 September 2012, plaintiff sent an invoice of $3,825 to ARC in connection with work performed for ARC's customer Detica NetReveal (" Detica" ). On 1 December 2012, after ARC had failed to respond to plaintiff's communications, Kenneth Bryant, plaintiff's principal and managing director, sent Masi, ARC's managing member, a letter indicating that plaintiff would sue ARC to recover the unpaid amount. Masi responded and exchanged voicemails with plaintiff's counsel. On 27 December 2012, plaintiff gave Masi a few days to consider a settlement offer. A few days later, Masi requested additional time to respond. Over the next few days, the parties negotiated over Masi's deadline to respond, but the parties failed to reach an agreement. On 4 January 2013, plaintiff threatened that it would file suit three days later, on 7 January 2013.
A. North Carolina Action
On 10 January 2013, plaintiff sued ARC and Masi for unjust enrichment and quantum meruit in Wake County District Court. On 4 March 2013, ARC and Masi were properly served. On or about 19 March 2013, plaintiff served interrogatories and its first request for production of documents to ARC. On 20 March 2013, plaintiff amended its complaint to add claims for breach of contract and fraud and sought an additional $4,400. On or about 8 April 2013, plaintiff served its second request for production of documents to ARC. ARC requested an extension of time to respond to plaintiff's requests, to which plaintiff consented.
On 22 April 2013, ARC and Masi moved to dismiss plaintiff's action or, in the alternative, moved to stay further proceedings because of a contemporaneous New Jersey action. Masi averred that plaintiff had performed all its work for ARC outside North Carolina. On or about 21 June 2013, plaintiff moved to compel ARC and Masi to respond to its discovery requests. On 16 August 2013, the Wake County District Court compelled ARC and Masi to respond to plaintiff's discovery requests. On 24 September 2013, Bryant averred that plaintiff's principal place of business is in North Carolina and plaintiff performed its work for Detica in North Carolina. Bryant also averred that Detica is headquartered in Massachusetts.
On or about 15 October 2013, the Wake County District Court denied ARC and Masi's motion to dismiss but refrained from ruling on ARC and Masi's motion to stay in order to allow the parties to supplement the record regarding the New Jersey action. A hearing on the motion to stay was set for 15 November 2013. On or about 12 November 2013, ARC and Masi's counsel averred that some witnesses reside in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. On or about 13 November 2013, Bryant averred that he and Masi would be the only necessary witnesses.
B. New Jersey Action
On 11 January 2013, ARC sued plaintiff and Bryant in New Jersey Superior Court for breach of the MSA's confidentiality and non-compete provisions, interference with ARC's contract with Detica, wrongful disclosure of proprietary and confidential information, breach of duty of loyalty, and civil conspiracy. In its complaint, ARC certified that: " The matter in controversy is not the subject of any other action in any Court. . . . No other action or arbitration proceeding is contemplated in regard to the matter in controversy." ARC asserts that plaintiff was properly served in the New ...