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Nesbitt v. Bemer

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 30, 2018

WILLIAM NESBITT, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE BEMER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND GRANTING MOTION TO STAY [DKTS. 28 AND 31]

          HON. VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration [Dkt. 28], requesting that the Court reconsider its Order denying Defendant's Motion to Stay pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1595(b)(1) [Dkt. 19], and Defendant's Motion to Stay in the Interest of Justice [Dkt. 31], requesting that the Court stay this civil action until the state criminal proceeding against Defendant concludes. For the following reasons, the Motion for Reconsideration [Dkt. 28] is GRANTED and the Motion to Stay in the Interest of Justice [Dkt. 31] is GRANTED.[1]

         I. Procedural History

         This civil action was filed in the Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport, on March 23, 2018. [Dkt. No. 1 (Def.'s Notice of Removal) ¶ 4]. Plaintiff, William Nesbitt (“Nesbitt”), alleges, inter alia, that Defendant Bruce Bemer (“Bemer”), violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (“TVPA”), actionable pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1595(a). Id. Bemer removed the state action to the District of Connecticut on the grounds that the plaintiff's TVPA claim “aris[es] under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c)(1); [Dkt. 1 (Notice of Removal)]. The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         A. Civil Proceeding

         Nesbitt alleges in his complaint that beginning on or about March, 2010, until about November, 2014, Nesbitt was in a relationship with Bemer in which Bemer would pay Nesbitt to “engage in lewd and perverted acts, sexual and otherwise, and would also ask Nesbitt to attempt to recruit other young men to do likewise.” [Dkt. 1, ¶ 3]. Nesbitt's complaint contains five claims against Bemer: (1) violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a; (2) violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (“TVPA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1595(a); (3) assault and battery; (4) reckless and wanton conduct; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         B. Criminal Proceeding

         On March 28, 2017, Bemer was arrested and charged with patronizing a prostitute who is a minor or the victim of trafficking, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-83(c), and conspiracy to commit trafficking, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-192a. [Dkt. 28 (Def.'s Mot. for Reconsideration), at 2].

         In Bemer's first Motion to Stay, he argued without asserting any particularized facts supporting this claim that Nesbitt is a victim of the occurrence which gave rise to the criminal action against Bemer and, therefore, a stay of the civil action is mandatory under the TVPA. [Dkt. 19 (Def.'s Memorandum of Law in Support of Mot. To Stay), at 2]. Specifically, Bemer argued only that:

This civil action undoubtedly arises from the same occurrence for which the Defendant is currently being prosecuted. As noted above, the Defendant is being prosecuted by the State of Connecticut for patronizing trafficked individuals and conspiring to commit trafficking. The arrest warrant for the Defendant cites to at least fifteen victims of the alleged criminal enterprise. Based upon the Plaintiff's civil complaint, he alleges to be a victim of the same trafficking enterprise for which the Defendant is currently being prosecuted. Accordingly, the evidence the Plaintiff will seek to prove his case in this civil action is the same evidence which the State will use in seeking to convict the Defendant.

[Id., at 2]. Bemer did not allege Nesbitt was named as a victim or otherwise mentioned in the criminal indictment, arrest warrant or in any discovery produced in the criminal case. Bemer did not attach any documentation to support his factual conclusion. He also did not offer offer any reasoned analysis from which the court could determine whether the cases arose out of the same facts and were thus parallel proceedings.

         In opposition to the Motion to Stay, Nesbitt argued the information filed in the state criminal action alleges that Bemer solicited approximately four victims. [Dkt. 24-1 (Pl.'s Obj. to Def.'s Mot. To Stay, Memorandum in Support), Ex. B, ¶ 31]. All four victims were involved in an alleged human trafficking ring, in which Bemer is charged with conspiring. [Id., ¶ 6]. Nesbitt further alleges that he had a separate relationship with Bemer in which Bemer paid Nesbitt for sexual encounters and asked Nesbitt to solicit other individuals for Bemer. [Id., ¶ 3]. Nesbitt swore he did not know the individuals named in the trial information concerning the state-alleged ring. [Dkt. 24, at 22-3].

         In support of his opposition to the original motion to stay Nesbitt also filed an affidavit stating that he had reviewed the criminal information and arrest warrant filed against Bemer and was not a victim of the occurrence giving rise to the criminal prosecution. [Dkt. 24-1, Ex. C., at 1-2]. In essence, Nesbitt asserted that he had a private intimate relationship with Bemer separate and distinct from the relationships Bemer is alleged to have had with the alleged victims in the state indictment. Bemer did not file a reply asserting any facts tending to show the instant case and the state criminal case were parallel proceedings, other than noting the similarity of the charged conduct. [Dkt. 19]

         The Court denied the first Motion to Stay, holding that Bemer did not prove that the cases were parallel, “‘aris[ing] out of the same occurrences'” underlying the state criminal case. [Dkt. 26] (citing 18 U.S.C. 1595(b)(1)). Subsequently, Bemer filed this Motion for Reconsideration [Dkt. 28] and Motion to Stay in the Interest of Justice [Dkt. 31]. He submits that “the Court was deprived of a full record upon which to render its decision because of Plaintiff's one-sided affidavit and ...


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