OPINION OF THE COURT
FUENTES, Circuit Judge, with whom McKEE, Chief Judge, AMBRO, SMITH, FISHER, CHAGARES, GREENAWAY, JR., VANASKIE, SHWARTZ, KRAUSE, and RESTREPO, Circuit Judges, join.
The plaintiffs in these cases are foreign agricultural workers who labored on banana plantations in Central and South America from the 1960s through the 1980s. They allege that their employers and certain chemical companies knowingly exposed them to toxic pesticides over many years, and that this exposure caused adverse health consequences ranging from sterility, to birth defects, to a heightened risk of cancer. Litigation against the defendants first began in Texas state court in 1993, yet to date no court has reached the merits of the plaintiffs' claims.
A series of byzantine procedural developments eventually led the plaintiffs out of Texas and into Louisiana, where they filed several diversity-based suits in federal district court raising tort claims against the defendants under Louisiana law. The defendants moved to dismiss those claims on timeliness grounds, and the plaintiffs, fearing that the Louisiana District Court would grant those motions, filed nearly identical suits in the District of Delaware raising analogous tort claims under Delaware law. Because the timeliness rules of Louisiana and Delaware are different, the plaintiffs hoped that, even if the Louisiana
Our initial inquiry concerns proper application of "the first-filed rule." That rule is a comity-based doctrine stating that, when duplicative lawsuits are filed successively in two different federal courts, the court where the action was filed first has priority. In some cases, "first-filed" courts have relied on the rule to enjoin litigation in other jurisdictions. In other cases, "second-filed" courts have cited the rule to defer consideration of a matter until proceedings have concluded elsewhere. Application of the rule is discretionary.
The second issue relates to personal jurisdiction. One of the defendants, Chiquita Brands International, moved for dismissal on the ground that the Delaware District Court lacked personal jurisdiction over it. The plaintiffs argued that personal jurisdiction was present, but, in the event that the Delaware District Court disagreed, they asked it to transfer their claims against Chiquita Brands International to New Jersey, where that defendant is incorporated, rather than dismiss them out-right. The Delaware District Court held that it lacked personal jurisdiction and refused to transfer the claims, believing that its decision to dismiss all other defendants under the first-filed rule merited a similar dismissal as to Chiquita Brands International. The plaintiffs contest that ruling on appeal.
Our third inquiry relates to the doctrine of res judicata. While the defendants' motions to dismiss under the first-filed rule were pending in Delaware, the Louisiana District Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims on timeliness grounds. Certain defendants in the Delaware suits, reacting to this development, moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' Delaware claims on the ground that the Louisiana dismissals ought to bar re-litigation of related claims in another forum. The Delaware District Court declined to reach the issue in view of its application of the first-filed rule, but the issue nonetheless confronts our Court today given the present posture of these cases.
Our resolution of this appeal is therefore threefold. First, we conclude that the Delaware District Court abused its discretion under the first-filed rule by dismissing the plaintiffs' claims with prejudice. Second, we conclude that the Delaware District Court erred by refusing to transfer the plaintiffs' claims against Chiquita Brands International to another forum. And third, we conclude that the timeliness dismissals entered by the Louisiana District Court do not create a res judicata bar to the plaintiffs' Delaware suits. As these cases come
Accordingly, we will vacate the Delaware District Court's dismissals and remand these cases for further proceedings.
These cases arise from the use of the pesticide dibromochloropropane (DBCP) on banana farms in several countries, including Panama, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. The plaintiffs allege that they were exposed to DBCP beginning in the 1960s and ending sometime in the 1980s, and that their exposure to DBCP has caused them to suffer from a number of serious health problems. The plaintiffs have been seeking redress for those injuries in various courts around the country and, indeed, around the world for over twenty years.
The full history of these cases has been well chronicled elsewhere, and we will not duplicate those efforts here.
A. Procedural History in the Texas Courts
This litigation began in 1993 with the filing of a class action in Texas state court.
This strategy was successful, at least for a time. In 1995, the Texas District Court
By the early-2000s, it had become clear that foreign courts were, as the Texas District Court anticipated, unwilling to hear these cases. As a result, the plaintiffs returned to Texas and asked for permission to litigate their claims in the United States. The Texas District Court, acting under the return jurisdiction clause it included in its 1995 dismissal order, revived the case and sent it back to Texas state court.
There, the defendants obtained a denial of class certification in 2010.
B. Subsequent Litigation in Louisiana and Delaware
After the denial of class certification in Texas, the plaintiffs in these cases decided to strike out on their own and sue the defendants on a non-class basis. They determined that it made sense to sue in either Louisiana or Delaware,
Those problems were twofold. First, there was the issue of cross-jurisdictional class action tolling.
Second, even if Louisiana or Delaware were to recognize cross-jurisdictional class action tolling, the plaintiffs' claims might still be untimely. Recall that the plaintiffs' class action was filed in Texas state court, removed to the Texas District Court, dismissed on the ground of forum non conveniens, and then reinstated several years later. If a court were to conclude that the plaintiffs' class action was not "pending" during the period of the forum non conveniens dismissal, the plaintiffs' claims would likely be untimely even if cross-jurisdictional class action tolling applied.
Deciding where to file suit therefore required the plaintiffs to predict how courts in Delaware and Louisiana would, in the absence of clear precedent, untangle the procedural Gordian Knot that this litigation had become. The plaintiffs eventually decided to sue in federal district court in Louisiana. The defendants then moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiffs' claims were time-barred under Louisiana's one-year statute of limitations.
Fearing that an adverse timeliness ruling might be forthcoming from the Louisiana District Court, the plaintiffs decided to take action in order to preserve their ability to litigate in another forum where their claims might be timely.
The defendants believed that this strategy — filing duplicative lawsuits in Delaware as an insurance policy against an adverse timeliness ruling in Louisiana — was improper. Accordingly, Dole filed a motion to dismiss the Delaware cases under the first-filed rule.
One additional defendant, Chiquita Brands International, moved for dismissal on the ground that the Delaware District Court lacked personal jurisdiction over it. The plaintiffs contested that motion, but, in the event that the Delaware District Court concluded that personal jurisdiction was lacking, they asked it to transfer their claims against Chiquita Brands International to New Jersey, where that defendant is incorporated, instead of dismissing their claims outright. The Delaware District Court, having already concluded that the plaintiffs' duplicative lawsuits merited dismissal under the first-filed rule, refused that request and granted the motion to dismiss.
In the meantime, things started to go badly for the plaintiffs in Louisiana. First, the Louisiana District Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims as time-barred. It reasoned that, even if the Louisiana Supreme Court were to recognize cross-jurisdictional class action tolling (which, to date, it had not done), the Texas District Court's forum
Quite apart from the first-filed rule, the Louisiana District Court's timeliness dismissals also raised potential res judicata issues vis-à-vis the Delaware litigation. Two of the defendants — Chiquita Brands, L.L.C. and Chiquita Fresh North America, L.L.C. — recognized this and moved for dismissal both under the first-filed rule and on res judicata grounds.
All of this procedural history brings us, at last, to the fundamental issue in this case: whether the Delaware District Court's prejudice-based dismissals were a proper exercise of its discretion under the first-filed rule. Once the Fifth Circuit affirmed the Louisiana District Court's timeliness rulings, the dismissals in Delaware threatened to prevent the plaintiffs from ever being able to litigate the merits of their claims in any court. Believing that this result was not a permissible outcome under the first-filed rule, the plaintiffs appealed.
II. The Delaware District Court Abused Its Discretion under the First-Filed Rule
We initially adopted the first-filed rule in Crosley Corp. v. Hazeltine Corp.
In E.E.O.C. v. University of Pennsylvania,
We concluded that it did not. We reiterated that the first-filed rule is "grounded on equitable principles"
Both Crosley and E.E.O.C. addressed the issue of when a federal district court, confronted with a second-filed action, should permit that action to continue. This appeal raises a different question. When a district court decides to apply the first-filed rule, it then faces the discretionary choice whether to stay the second-filed action, transfer it, dismiss it without prejudice, or dismiss it with prejudice, thereby
We begin by looking to the relevant treatises. Speaking of the first-filed rule as a doctrine of abstention, Wright and Miller say that "it is well settled that if the same issues are presented in an action pending in another federal court, one of these courts may stay the action before it or even in some circumstances enjoin going forward in the other federal court."
Moore's Federal Practice, meanwhile, states that "[i]f the first-filed action is vulnerable to dismissal on jurisdictional or statute of limitations grounds, the court in the second-filed action should stay it or transfer it, rather than outright dismiss it."
Several of our sister circuits have also considered the appropriateness of dismissing a case under the first-filed rule. The Seventh, Ninth, and Fifth Circuits have all stated that district courts should be careful to apply their discretion under the rule so as not to cause undue prejudice to the litigants appearing before them. These courts have therefore indicated that, in most circumstances, a stay or transfer of a second-filed action will be more appropriate than a dismissal.
We begin with the Seventh Circuit's decision in Asset Allocation and Management Co. v. Western Employers Insurance Co.
While the Seventh Circuit affirmed the portion of the district court's order enjoining the parties from proceeding in California, it reversed the dismissal order. It explained that if the Illinois District Court were to dismiss the plaintiff's claims before litigation was "well advanced," the parties were free to litigate their claims in California.
The Seventh Circuit again considered the first-filed rule in Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund v. Paramount Liquor Co.
The Ninth Circuit adopted a similar approach in Alltrade, Inc. v. Uniweld Products, Inc.
Finally, the Fifth Circuit considered the proper application of the first-filed rule in Burger v. American Marine Officers Union.
The through-line connecting these cases is the proposition that a court exercising its discretion under the first-filed rule should be careful not to cause unanticipated prejudice to the litigants before it. We agree with that proposition and today incorporate it into the jurisprudence of our Circuit.
In addition to reflecting the wisdom of our sister circuits, this conclusion is consistent with, and perhaps even a necessary consequence of, our obligations under Article III. The "mandate ... [to] hear cases within [our] statutory jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of our judiciary."
Quackenbush thus drew a distinction between two of the Supreme Court's abstention precedents, Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. City of Thibodaux
For present purposes, the teaching of Quackenbush is that "where there is no other forum" with the power to hear a case, "relinquishing jurisdiction is not abstention; it's abdication."
Our own abstention jurisprudence has long directed district courts to stay, rather than dismiss, potentially duplicative federal suits.
The benefits of staying a second-filed suit are just as persuasive in the context of the first-filed rule. Because a stay confines litigants to the first forum until proceedings there have concluded, a stay will generally avoid wasted judicial efforts, conflicting judgments, and unnecessary friction between courts. In addition, a second-filed court will rarely need to reach the merits of the stayed case. The far more likely result is that the matter will reach a final resolution in the first court. In the few instances where there is no res judicata (or other) bar that would prevent litigation in the second forum, it will generally be because the second suit is not truly duplicative of the first. In those circumstances, a second-filed court has an obligation, consistent with Quackenbush, to take jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims.
We therefore conclude that, in the vast majority of cases, a court exercising its discretion under the first-filed rule should stay or transfer a second-filed suit.
Note that we say "almost always," not "always." The factual circumstances giving rise to duplicative litigation are too variable to adopt a blanket, hard-and-fast rule, and there may well be circumstances in which a district court is correct to respond to a second-filed suit with a prejudice-based dismissal. For example, "if the second suit is harassing, vexatious, [or] an abuse of process, the proper disposition... is dismissal with prejudice, so that the plaintiff cannot refile the suit."
This, of course, brings us to the issue at the heart of the present litigation. The defendants insist that what happened here was forum shopping. In their view, the plaintiffs had an obligation to research the timeliness rules in both Louisiana and Delaware and then, having done so, take their "best shot" at finding a forum willing to hear the merits of their claims. If the plaintiffs chose poorly, and their claims were dismissed as time-barred, that result might be unfortunate — but, the defendants insist, such a possibility does not require federal courts to entertain duplicative lawsuits.
To be sure, there is some merit to the defendants' assertions. A plaintiff who sues in two jurisdictions simultaneously may be required to litigate in the first forum once the court there has expended substantial judicial resources.
Moreover, we are skeptical of the defendants' characterization of the facts giving rise to the present appeal. The assertion that the plaintiffs engaged in impermissible forum shopping depends on the proposition that the plaintiffs acted improperly by trying to preserve their right to litigate in two different jurisdictions. In view of the unusual circumstances surrounding these cases, we simply disagree.
While reasonable minds may differ about what constitutes forum shopping in any particular case, the term generally denotes some attempt to gain an unfair or unmerited advantage in the litigation process. But here, the plaintiffs were indifferent as to which court would hear their claims; they simply wanted a court to hear their claims. Indeed, the traditional rule is that a timeliness dismissal in one jurisdiction does not bar litigation of the same claim in another forum with a longer limitations period.
Whatever else the first-filed rule demands, it does not require litigants to see through a glass darkly in order to predict whether a court will consider their claims timely. In our view, the defendants have not pointed to a single advantage, "either legally, practically, or tactically," that the plaintiffs sought by suing in two different jurisdictions.
Accordingly, we hold that the Delaware District Court abused its discretion under the first-filed rule by dismissing these cases with prejudice.
III. Personal Jurisdiction over Chiquita Brands International
This brings us to the second issue in this appeal. The Delaware District Court concluded that it lacked personal
Personal jurisdiction over a defendant may be either general or specific.
The Supreme Court recently revisited the issue of general jurisdiction in Daimler AG v. Bauman.
Against this backdrop, Chiquita Brands International argues that it was never "at home" in Delaware, and we agree. The company is not incorporated there, does not maintain an office there, and does not supervise its business there. While the plaintiffs recognize as much, they contend that Chiquita Brands International engaged in other contacts with Delaware sufficient to create general jurisdiction there. On the record before us, we discern no error in the Delaware District Court's conclusion to the contrary.
But that is not the end of the matter. Chiquita Brands International is incorporated in New Jersey, and the plaintiffs asked the Delaware District Court to
We disagree. In the first place, the statutory provision applicable in these circumstances is arguably not 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), but rather 28 U.S.C. § 1631, which governs transfer when there is "a want of jurisdiction."
We will therefore vacate the Delaware District Court's dismissal of Chiquita Brands International and remand with instructions to grant the plaintiffs' request for a transfer to the District of New Jersey.
IV. The Delaware Actions Are Not Barred by Res Judicata
This brings us to the final and most doctrinally complex issue in this appeal — namely, whether the Louisiana District Court's timeliness dismissals ought to have a claim-preclusive effect in Delaware. The Delaware District Court did not rule on this issue in light of its application of the first-filed rule, but both sides have briefed the issue before us.
It is true that "[w]e ordinarily decline to consider issues not decided by a district court, choosing instead to allow that court to consider them in the first instance."
If a case were ever in need of judicial acceleration, it is this one. We see little
A. The Inquiry under
The plaintiffs' claims in Louisiana were dismissed as time-barred by a federal district court sitting in diversity and applying Louisiana law. The question we confront is whether the Louisiana dismissals prevent a federal district court in Delaware, sitting in diversity and applying Delaware's timeliness rules, from reaching the merits of the plaintiffs' claims.
The Supreme Court's decision in Semtek International Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp.
Semtek itself dealt with the claim-preclusive effect of a timeliness dismissal entered by a federal diversity court sitting in California. Under the rule Semtek announced, "the claim-preclusive effect" of that dismissal "is governed by a federal rule that in turn incorporates California's law of claim preclusion."
Semtek thus directs us to evaluate the res judicata effects of the Louisiana District Court's timeliness dismissals by looking to Louisiana's law of claim preclusion. When we do so, we have little trouble concluding that Louisiana courts treat timeliness dismissals as judgments on the merits that have claim-preclusive effects.
We begin by noting that there is an important ambiguity in Semtek itself. Semtek alludes only briefly to the fact that a state might apply two rules simultaneously: first, that a timeliness dismissal precludes re-litigation of the same claims within that state; and second, that a timeliness dismissal does not bar litigation of the same claims in a court outside that state.
While fact patterns raising this issue are perhaps uncommon, they are not unheard of. The Supreme Court of Connecticut, for example, addressed the issue of cross-jurisdictional claim preclusion in Advest, Inc. v. Wachtel.
The Seventh Circuit, too, noted in Reinke v. Boden
Unlike the Connecticut Supreme Court, the Louisiana Supreme Court has not directly addressed the issue of whether Louisiana timeliness dismissals are claim-preclusive in other jurisdictions. The Louisiana Court of Appeal, however, has indicated that the dismissal of a plaintiff's claim as time-barred in one court system is not necessarily claim-preclusive in another.
The key case is Griffin v. BSFI Western E & P, Inc.
The Court of Appeal began its analysis by stating that "[t]he dismissal of an action under a federal statute of limitations constitutes a final judgment on the merits in federal court, and is res judicata as to successive actions arising from the same transaction filed in other federal courts."
Relying in part on the Seventh Circuit's decision in Reinke, the Griffin Court reasoned that, in a cross-jurisdictional situation, Louisiana's law of claim preclusion incorporates basic notions of equity and fairness. Accordingly, a court in such a situation should consider "the goal of res judicata principles," including that "litigation must eventually have an end," while remaining sensitive to "the plaintiff's right of access to the courts."
Other Louisiana cases have occasionally echoed this appreciation for the distinction between intra- and extra-jurisdictional claim preclusion.
As it turns out, however, our resolution of these cases does not depend on the distinction between intra- and extra-jurisdictional claim preclusion. While we have wrestled with that distinction before,
B. Louisiana's Law of Res Judicata Does Not Bar the Plaintiffs' Claims
We begin with an important foundational principle. The Louisiana Supreme Court has stated that res judicata is such a drastic procedural device that "any doubt concerning [its] application ... must be resolved against its application."
What's more, Louisiana's rules of claim preclusion are not absolute. The Louisiana Supreme Court has explained that "[o]ne of the goals of res judicata is to promote judicial economy and fairness," and that applying the doctrine "blindly or mechanically... does not foster judicial economy or fundamental fairness to the parties."
At common law, Louisiana's doctrine of res judicata included a safety valve for "exceptional circumstances" sufficient to overcome "the policies favoring preclusion of a second action."
Louisiana courts have held that the statutory exception to res judicata "generally applies to complex procedural situations in which litigants are deprived of the opportunity to present their claims due to unanticipated quirks in the system."
Federal courts, too, have applied Louisiana's statutory exception to res judicata in appropriate circumstances. The Eighth Circuit, for example, relied on the exception in Follette v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
The logic of Simmons and Follette applies with equal force to the situation we confront now. As in Simmons, the plaintiffs here have "vigorously pursued their claims" only to be met at every moment with procedural hurdles.
As Wright and Miller recognize, "[a]mong the weakest cases for preclusion would be one in which the plaintiffs were legitimately surprised by the limitations ruling in the first action; unlike a dismissal
The defendants' contrary arguments are not persuasive. While the defendants recognize that, under Semtek, Louisiana law controls our res judicata analysis, they contend that Louisiana has adopted, as a principle of its own substantive law, the view that federal rules of claim preclusion dictate the effects of judgments entered by federal diversity courts. On this account, neither Louisiana's res judicata statute nor its equitable exception should inform our analysis. In support of this proposition, the defendants rely on a single unpublished opinion of the Fifth Circuit.
The defendants are wrong. It is true that, before Semtek, Louisiana courts stated that the claim-preclusive effect of all federal judgments was controlled by federal principles of claim preclusion.
To the contrary, federal district courts in Louisiana "appl[y] Louisiana law to determine the preclusive effect of [their] prior [diversity] judgments."
Next, the defendants rely on another Fifth Circuit case, Steve D. Thompson Trucking, Inc. v. Dorsey Trailers, Inc.,
While we appreciate that there are certain parallels between Thompson Trucking and the situation we confront today, we do not think Thompson Trucking is persuasive in the present context.
First, Thompson Trucking predated Semtek, leaving the Fifth Circuit free to reason that "the effect of a prior federal diversity judgment is controlled by federal rather than state res judicata rules."
Second, Thompson Trucking focused extensively on what it characterized as the plaintiffs' impermissible forum shopping. While we understand these concerns — and indeed might find them persuasive in the appropriate case — they carry little weight here for the straightforward reason that the plaintiffs have not engaged in what we consider to be forum shopping. As we explained earlier, the plaintiffs were not scouring multiple jurisdictions for more advantageous substantive law or more sympathetic fact-finders. Instead, they were trying to find one court — and only one court — willing to reach the merits of their claims.
Accordingly, we conclude that Louisiana's statutorily-codified equitable exception to res judicata applies to the present facts. Consistent with Semtek, we therefore hold that the timeliness dismissals entered by the Louisiana District Court do not create a res judicata bar to the plaintiffs' Delaware suits. Rather than affirm
V. Issues on Remand
Among the issues the Delaware District Court will address on remand is the question of whether the plaintiffs' claims are timely under Delaware's applicable statute of limitations.
In reaching that conclusion, Marquinez relied on an extremely fine-grained interpretation of what occurred in Texas in 1995. In particular, Marquinez drew a distinction between the question of whether the Texas District Court's 1995 dismissal on forum non conveniens grounds restarted Delaware's statute of limitations clock, and whether the contemporaneous denial of the pending motion for class certification as moot did so.
Contrary to Marquinez's characterization, Blanco in fact summarized the defendants' argument that the "plaintiff[s] cannot rely on the [Texas] actions to toll the statute of limitations because all pending motions, including one for class certification, were denied as moot."
We also note that when the Texas District Court dismissed the class action in 1995, it did more than include a return clause in its dismissal order.
Nor did Marquinez acknowledge that when the Texas District Court reinstated the class action in 2004, it framed its decision as "a direct continuation of the prior proceedings over which the court expressly stated its intent to retain jurisdiction."
We leave it to the Delaware District Court on remand to consider these issues and to perform its "duty ... to ascertain from all the available data what the state law is and apply it rather than to prescribe a different rule, however superior it may appear from the viewpoint of `general law.'"
For over two decades, the plaintiffs have been knocking on courthouse doors all over the country and, indeed, the world, only for those doors to remain closed. The Delaware District Court concluded that, pursuant to the first-filed rule, its doors must remain shut as well.
That conclusion was in error. Neither the first-filed rule nor Louisiana's doctrine of res judicata is fatal to the plaintiffs' Delaware claims. We revive this litigation now, more than two decades after it began, while expressing our sincerest hope that it proceeds with more alacrity than it has to the present date.
Accordingly, we will vacate the Delaware District Court's dismissals and remand these cases for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.
The Supreme Court "later extended its holding in American Pipe to `all asserted members of the class, not just as to interveners.'" Id. (quoting Crown, Cork & Seal Co. v. Parker, 462 U.S. 345, 350, 103 S.Ct. 2392, 76 L.Ed.2d 628 (1983)). States, however, are free to recognize cross-jurisdictional class action tolling or to reject it.
Few courts have considered whether and to what extent Semtek and Paramount Aviation are compatible. At least one court has concluded that the two cases work hand-in-glove. On this view, Semtek says that, consistent with Erie, we assess the claim-preclusive effects of a judgment issued by a federal court sitting in diversity by looking to the substantive law of the relevant state, and Paramount Aviation tells us that New Jersey's entire controversy doctrine is more akin to a procedural rule, not a substantive one, and that, under Erie, a federal court need not apply it. See Yantia N. Andre Juice Co. v. Kupperman, No. 05-cv-01049, 2005 WL 2338854, at *3 n.2 (D.N.J. Sept. 23, 2005) ("In Semtek, the Court held that federal common law governs the claim-preclusive effect of a dismissal by a federal court sitting in diversity. The federal common law applicable in our case, however, is provided by Paramount...." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).
Our Court has addressed the issue once in a non-precedential opinion, McHale v. Kelly, 527 Fed.Appx. 149 (3d Cir. 2013). Because the claims at issue there were precluded irrespective of whether we applied New Jersey or federal law, we declined to decide "whether Semtek or Paramount Aviation controls." Id. at 151.
At least one scholar has therefore noted that there may be some tension between Thomas (states cannot dictate the consequences of their judgments in other jurisdictions) and Semtek (the exterritorial import of a timeliness dismissal entered by a diversity court depends on state law — including, perhaps, the state's views on extraterritorial claim preclusion). See Stephen B. Burbank, Semtek, Forum Shopping, and Federal Common Law, 77 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1027, 1052 (2002) ("Perhaps... the [Supreme] Court believes that whether a state court judgment dismissing a case on limitations grounds is preclusive in subsequent litigation in another state depends upon the rendering court's views on a question it is without power to decide.").
Importantly, the District Court in Austin said that the plaintiff had "pointed to nothing in ... Louisiana law suggesting that a judgment that would be considered final and on the merits in the context of a second action brought in the same jurisdiction would not be considered to be final and on the merits in the context of a[n] action brought in another jurisdiction." Austin v. Super Valu Stores, Inc., No. 4-92-cv-1059, 1994 WL 409473, at *4 (D. Minn. May 17, 1994). Here, cases applying Louisiana's equitable exception to res judicata indicate precisely that.