United States District Court, E.D. Virginia
CHARLES E. BRUNNER, Plaintiff,
19 PARKER BROTHERS SHOTGUNS, Defendants.
LIAM O" GRADY JUDGE
October 19. 2018. the Court issued an Order transferring this
case to the United Stales District Court for the Middle
District of Florida. Dkt. 23. This Memorandum Opinion
accompanies that Order.
Brunner brought an in rem action to determine the
ownership of 19 Parker Brothers Shotguns (''Defendant
Shotguns") located in the Faslern District of Virginia.
After Mr. Brunner posted notice of this lawsuit, Carol
Cameron Mc Kinney and Sherri Wharthan McClendon
("Judgment Creditors") filed an answer and
counterclaim, then moved to transfer this case to the United
States District Court for the Middle District of Florida,
shotguns at issue were originally owned by Roland Askins. In
April 2016, while Mr. Askins still owned the shotguns.
Judgment Creditors obtained two judgments against Mr. Askins
and his sons in Florida state court. That same month.
Judgment Creditors perfected judicial liens against the
physical and personal property of Mr. Askins and his sons.
When the Askins failed to satisfy their judgments to Judgment
Creditors, the Florida state court issued a break order and a
levy took place on February 22, 2017. The Sheriff executing
the levy was unable to seize the Defendant Shotguns because
the Askins had moved the guns to another location not subject
to the state court's break order.
22, 2017, Roland Askins filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of
Florida. See In re Roland V. Askins, Jr., Case No.
8:17-bk-04431-RCT. At that time, the Defendant Shotguns
became property of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy estate.
See 11 U.S.C. § 541(a) (stating that the
bankruptcy estate, subject to exceptions not applicable here,
includes property of the debtor "wherever located and by
October 2017, Mr. Brunner was contacted by a Florida real
estate expert claiming that Mr. Askins's sons desired to
sell a shotgun collection that included the Defendant
Shotguns to pay for their father's health expenses. Mr.
Brunner alleges that he believed at that time that a company
formed by the Askins brothers, WKH Investments, LLC, was the
owner and seller of the shotgun collection.
following month, in November 2017, Mr. Brunner traveled to
Sarasota, Florida to purchase the shotgun collection for
$332, 500.00. The parties dispute whether that sum
represented the actual value of the shotguns. Mr. Brunner
then transported the shotguns to his home in Loudoun County,
Virginia and began reselling them.
March 5, 2018, Judgment Creditors received an anonymous
letter stating that the Askins still had and were trying to
sell the guns, and that the Askins had filed for bankruptcy
to gain more time to sell the guns. The Judgment Creditors
later acted on this tip and, pursuant to break orders, seized
over 220 firearms that did not include the Defendant
March 26, 2018, Judgment Creditors' counsel informed Mr.
Brunner about the bankruptcy proceedings and that the sale of
the shotguns to him was (allegedly) fraudulent. Mr. Brunner
was also directed to "cease and desist" any further
sale of the shotguns. By that time, Mr. Brunner had already
sold thirty of the shotguns he had obtained from the Askins
and only retained possession of the nineteen Defendant
20, 2018, Mr. Brunner filed an in rem complaint to
determine the proper ownership of the Defendant Shotguns. Mr.
Brunner then published notice of the suit in the Washington
Post six times. On September 10, 2018, Judgment Creditors
filed an answer and counterclaims. Four days later, Judgment
Creditors filed the Motion to Transfer at issue. After
briefing on the Motion to Transfer was complete, Judgment
Creditors filed a Notice of Related Case, attaching a
complaint filed in the Askins bankruptcy case against Mr.
Brunner regarding Mr. Brunner's purchase of the Defendant
Shotguns. This Court heard oral argument on the Motion to
Transfer on October 12, 2018. During the hearing, the Court
stated that the Motion to Transfer would be granted and the
case would be transferred to the United States District Court
for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. An order
to that effect was entered on October 19, 2018. This
memorandum opinion accompanies the Court's ruling from
the bench and transfer order.
Court transferred this case because (1) courts in Florida
exercised prior exclusive jurisdiction over the Defendant
Shotguns, and (2) convenience and justice factors favored
transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).
The Florida Courts Have Prior Exclusive Jurisdiction ...