Doronin v. Amanat, No. 652184/2014 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Nov. 24, 2014) [click for opinion]
Plaintiff Vladislav Doronin ("Doronin"), a Russian billionaire and real estate developer, sued Defendants Omar Amanat ("Amanat"), a venture capitalist, and his Delaware company, Peak Venture Partners L.L.C., claiming that Defendants fraudulently induced him into entering a letter agreement relating to control over a collection of luxury resorts and hotels known as Aman Resorts. Defendants moved for an order staying the action pending the resolution of lawsuits that had been previously filed in the United Kingdom, or in the alternative, for dismissal of the action. In support of the stay motion, Defendants argued that Doronin's defense in the English litigation relied on the same fraudulent inducement allegations he asserted in this action. Defendants also argued that the English litigation, like the New York action, would require consideration of Doronin's and Amanat's rights and obligations under various agreements and transactions relating to the acquisition of Aman Resorts, thus warranting a stay.
The court agreed, and granted the motion for a stay. The court ruled that a stay was warranted under section 2201 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, which permits a court to grant a stay of proceedings "in a proper case, upon such terms as are just." The court determined that this was a "proper case" because there were common questions of law and fact in the New York and English litigations, and that certain common issues would likely be decided in the English courts. The court credited evidence that Doronin and Amanat, through their corporate vehicles, were engaged in a "full scale battle" over control of Aman Resorts in four pending lawsuits in the English courts, and that Amanat was an individual party in one of these lawsuits. Further, the court rejected Doronin's efforts to characterize the letter agreement as a "stand alone" agreement and to argue that the issues in the New York proceeding were thus narrower in scope than those in the English lawsuits. Instead, the court concluded that the letter agreement was merely the "tip of the transactional iceberg" with respect to the parties' agreements and transactions relating to control over Aman Resorts.
Accordingly, because of the overlap of issues, the court ordered a stay of the New York action pending resolution of the English lawsuits.
Michael Atkins of the New York office contributed to this summary.