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Medina-Padilla v. United States Aviation Underwriters, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 4, 2016

HERIBERTO MEDINA-PADILLA; L & M CORP., d/b/a Emmanuel Travel and Tours, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
UNITED STATES AVIATION UNDERWRITERS, INC.; UNITED STATES AIRCRAFT INSURANCE GROUP, Defendants, Appellees, PIEDMONT AVIATION SERVICES, INC., Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Daniel R. Domínguez, U.S. District Judge.

Diana Lynn Pagán-Rosado on brief for appellants.

Tomás A. Román-Santos and Román Santos, LLC on brief for appellees.

Before Lynch, Selya, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 84

LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

This is the second time the plaintiffs have brought the same claims before the federal courts. This time, they characterize the claims as sounding in tort rather than sounding in contract, as they had claimed earlier. This they cannot do.

In 2005, Lopez & Medina Corp. (" L & M" ) brought suit against a number of insurers, claiming that the insurers were liable for L & M's breach of contract claims against a company, Patriot Air, LLC (" Patriot Air" ), that had an insurance policy with those insurers. In 2010, the district court dismissed the case on the basis that the insurance policy did not provide coverage for contract claims. Lopez & Medina Corp. v. Marsh USA, Inc., 694 F.Supp.2d 119, 121 (D.P.R. 2010). This court affirmed. López & Medina Corp. v. Marsh USA, Inc., 667 F.3d 58, 69 (1st Cir. 2012).

L & M and its owner now bring tort-based claims arising out of the same set of underlying facts. The district court dismissed the action on the ground of res judicata. Medina-Padilla v. Piedmont Aviation Servs., Inc., No. 3:14-cv-01048, 2015 WL 1033918 (D.P.R. Mar. 10, 2015) . We affirm.

I.

The background facts and procedural history of this case are recounted in detail in our previous opinion. López & Medina Corp., 667 F.3d at 60-63. We briefly recount the facts underlying this appeal.

On June 3, 2005, L & M filed a diversity complaint in the District of Puerto Rico against a number of insurers[1] for Patriot Air.[2] The complaint alleged that L & M had entered into a Passenger Aircraft

Page 85

Charter Agreement with Patriot Air and that Patriot Air had breached that agreement in June and July 2002. But Patriot Air had filed for bankruptcy in September 2002, and L & M did not name Patriot Air as a defendant. Rather, the complaint sought recovery from Patriot Air's insurers under Puerto Rico's direct action statute, P.R. Laws Ann. tit. 26, ยง 2003, which allows ...


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