CFE Group, LLC v. FirstMerit Bank, N.A., No. 14-2554 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
FirstMerit Bank sued CFE Group in federal court to enforce a promissory note and guaranties. The district court dismissed without prejudice, with leave to amend. Rather than amend, FirstMerit filed a notice of voluntary dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i). FirstMerit then filed a new complaint in an Illinois state court asserting the same claims. CFE moved to dismiss the new suit, arguing that the earlier federal dismissal meant that FirstMerit’s claims were barred by claim preclusion (res judicata). The state trial court denied the motion. CFE filed a new federal action, seeking to enjoin the state court under the relitigation exception to the federal Anti‐Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. 2283. The district court refused, ruling that the dismissal of the first federal case was not a judgment on the merits and, therefore, did not preclude the state action. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that CFE’s request for an injunction was also barred by the Full Faith and Credit Act, 28 U.S.C. 1738, and finding the appeal frivolous, so that sanctions on CFE are appropriate.