Steele v. Bell

Civil Procedure

New York Law Journal


Judge Ronnie Abrams

Steele's amended complaint against Bell and the Josh Milani Gallery asserted claims of copyright infringement and contract breach related to the ownership and display of the film "Blackfella's Guide to New York." Defendants asserted eight counterclaims for declaratory judgment; fraud on the Copyright Office; contract breach; enforcement of judgment; replevin; conversion; misrepresentation under 17 USC §512(F); and tortious interference. District court granted defense counsel's withdrawal. However, discussing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 13 and Jones v. Ford Motor Credit and citing Pizzulli v. Nw. Mut. Life Ins., the court found that all eight counterclaims arose from the same transaction or occurrence as the subject matter of Steele's claims and were so "logically connected" to Steele's claims that they were compulsory counterclaims which could not be dismissed without prejudice, as defendants had sought. Declining to grant their motion seeking voluntary dismissal of their counterclaims without prejudice, the court gave defendants 10 days to seek to withdraw their motion to dismiss their counterclaims. If they failed to do so their counterclaims would be dismissed with prejudice.

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