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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA


(Abingdon Division)
TONY A MESSER, et al., )
)
Plaintiffs, )
)
v. ) Case No. 1:18-cv-00040-JPJ-PMS
)
BRISTOL COMPRESSORS )
INTERNATIONAL, LLC, )
)
and )
)
GARRISON INVESTMENT GROUP, )
L.P., )
)
Defendants. )
____________________________________)

ANSWER AND DEFENSES OF DEFENDANT


GARRISON INVESTMENT GROUP, L.P.

Defendant Garrison Investment Group, L.P. (“Garrison”) provides the following Answer

and Defenses to Plaintiffs’ Complaint. Except as expressly admitted or qualified hereafter,

Garrison denies each and every allegation contained in Plaintiffs’ Complaint.

1. Garrison admits only that Plaintiffs’ Complaint purports to assert claims arising

under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2102, et seq.

Garrison denies the remaining allegations in Paragraph 1 of the Complaint.

2. Garrison admits only that Plaintiffs’ Complaint purports to assert claims on behalf

of themselves and other similarly situated individuals. Garrison denies the remaining allegations

in Paragraph 2 of the Complaint.

3. Garrison admits the allegations in Paragraph 3 of the Complaint.

4. Garrison admits only that the allegations in the Complaint are sufficient to

establish venue in this District. Garrison denies the remaining allegations in Paragraph 4 of the

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Complaint.

5. Garrison admits that venue is proper in this District.

6. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 6 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

7. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 7 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

8. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 8 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

9. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 9 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

10. Garrison admits the allegations in Paragraph 10 of the Complaint.

11. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 11 of the Complaint.

12. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 12 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

13. Garrison admits only that it is a Delaware limited partnership, with its principal

place of business at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 914, New York, New York 10104.

Garrison denies the remaining allegations in Paragraph 13 of the Complaint.

14. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 14 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

15. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 15 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

16. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 6 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

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17. Garrison lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the

truth of the allegations in Paragraph 6 of the Complaint and therefore denies the same.

18. Garrison incorporates its responses to Paragraphs 1 through 17 of the Complaint

as if fully set forth herein.

19. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 19 of the Complaint.

20. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 20 of the Complaint.

21. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 21 of the Complaint.

22. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 22 of the Complaint.

23. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 23 of the Complaint.

24. Garrison incorporates its responses to Paragraphs 1 through 24 of the Complaint

as if fully set forth herein.

25. Garrison admits only that Plaintiffs purports to assert class action claims pursuant

to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 23(a) and (b). Garrison denies the remaining allegations in Paragraph 25

of the Complaint.

26. Garrison admits only that the Complaint purports to define the Class Members as

described. Garrison denies any remaining allegations in Paragraph 26 of the Complaint.

27. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 27 of the Complaint.

28. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 28 of the Complaint.

29. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 29 of the Complaint.

30. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 30 of the Complaint.

31. Garrison denies the allegations in Paragraph 31 of the Complaint.

32. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 32 that the allegations contained therein

are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

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one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 32 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

33. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 33 that the allegations contained therein

are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 33 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

34. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 34 that the allegations contained therein

are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 34 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

35. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 35 that the allegations contained therein

are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 35 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

36. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 36 that the allegations contained therein

are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 36 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

37. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 37 that the allegations contained therein

are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 37 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

38. Garrison asserts in response to Paragraph 38 that the allegations contained therein

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are requests for relief and not factual assertions to which a response is required, but to the extent

one is required, Garrison denies any and all allegations in Paragraph 38 of the Complaint. The

Court should deny all damages and relief requested by Plaintiffs.

AFFIRMATIVE AND OTHER DEFENSES

Garrison asserts the following defenses and affirmative defenses to Plaintiffs’ Complaint

and the claims for relief asserted therein:

FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

Plaintiffs’ Complaint fails to allege facts sufficient to state a claim upon which relief may

be granted against Garrison.

NO “SINGLE EMPLOYER LIABILITY”

Plaintiffs’ claims against Garrison are barred on grounds that Garrison was not Plaintiffs’

“employer” as defined by the WARN Act. The Complaint fails to properly allege all elements

necessary to state a cause of action against Garrison for violation of the WARN Act as a “single

employer” as required by 29 U.S.C. §2101-2109. Garrison is not liable to Plaintiffs because it

was not a “single employer” with Defendant Bristol Compressors International, LLC (“Bristol

Compressors”) for purposes of the WARN Act.

FALTERING COMPANY EXEMPTION

Plaintiffs’ claims are barred because Garrison was not required to provide notice to

Plaintiffs under the “faltering company” exemption to the WARN Act. On information and

belief, Bristol Compressors was exempt from providing notice under the WARN Act on grounds

that before Plaintiffs were terminated, Bristol Compressors was actively seeking capital or

business that, if obtained, may have enabled it to avoid or postpone a “plant closing,” and, on

information and belief, Bristol Compressors reasonably and in good faith believed that providing

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such notice would have prevented Bristol Compressors from obtaining the needed capital or

business.

UNFORESEEABLE BUSINESS CIRCUMSTANCES

Plaintiffs’ claims are barred because, on information and belief, Bristol Compressors was

exempt from providing notice under the WARN Act on the grounds that the Plaintiffs’

termination was caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the

time notice would have been required.

WAIVER, LACHES, AND/OR ESTOPPEL

Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the doctrines of waiver, laches, and/or estoppel.

FAILURE TO MITIGATE DAMAGES

Plaintiffs are not entitled to recover the entirety of the damages they seek in their

Complaint because Plaintiffs had a duty to mitigate their damages.

SETOFF

Garrison is entitled to a setoff for all wages, benefits, unemployment compensation and

all amounts Plaintiffs and similarly situated individuals have recovered as compensation for any

reason since the dates of their terminations.

FAILURE OF CLASS ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiffs’ Complaint fails to satisfy the requirements to bring this action on behalf of a

class. The putative class also includes employees who received WARN Notification, who were

otherwise excluded from the WARN notification requirement, or who released claims, and thus

such employees fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or are otherwise prohibited

from recovering under the WARN Act.

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RELEASE, DISCHARGE, COMPROMISE AND/OR SETTLEMENT

Plaintiffs’ Complaint is barred, in whole or in part, because of Plaintiffs’ release,

discharge, compromise, and/or settlement of claims.

PAYMENT

Plaintiffs’ Complaint is barred, in whole or in part, because to the extent and monies or

benefits were ever due and/or owing to Plaintiffs, such monies and benefits have been paid to

Plaintiffs.

RESERVATION OF RIGHT TO AMEND

Garrison reserves the right to modify its affirmative and other defenses and/or add such

other defenses that may become known to it through the course of its investigations and

discovery in this action, including up to the time of trial.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, responding to Plaintiffs’ Prayer for Relief, Defendant Garrison

Investment Group, LP denies that Plaintiffs are entitled to any of the relief requested, and prays

for judgment against Plaintiffs as follows: (i) dismissal of the Complaint with prejudice; (ii)

entry of judgment for Garrison denying all relief requested by Plaintiffs; (iii) award Garrison its

reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs in defending this matter; and (iv) award of such other and

further relief as this Court deems just and equitable.

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Dated: January 7, 2019
/s/
Mark H. Churchill
VSB No. 42663
Holland & Knight LLP
1650 Tysons Blvd., Suite 1700
Tysons, VA 22102
Tele.: (703) 720-8094
Fax.: (703) 720-8610
Email: mark.churchill@hklaw.com

Counsel for Defendant Garrison Investment


Group, L.P.

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that a true and correct copy of the foregoing was served upon the

following counsel of record via the courts ECF system on this 7th day of January, 2019:

Mary Lynn Tate, Esq. (VSB No. 16085)


Tate Law PC
16006 Porterfield Hwy
Abingdon, Virginia 24210
T: (276) 628-5185
F: (276) 628-5045
mltate@tatelaw.com

Counsel for Plaintiffs

/s/
Mark H. Churchill (VSB No. 42663)

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