United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division
JOHN W. TISDALE, JR., Plaintiff,
BLAINE WILSON, et al., Defendants. JOHN W. TISDALE, JR., Plaintiff,
BLAINE WILSON, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. KEITH WATKINS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Before the court is Defendant Blaine Wilson’s motion to dismiss (Doc. # 5) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff John W. Tisdale, Jr., filed a response in opposition to the motion. (Doc. # 7.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is due to be granted in part and denied in part.
I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
Subject-matter jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Personal jurisdiction and venue are not contested.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
When evaluating a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must take the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Resnick v. AvMed, Inc., 693 F.3d 1317, 1321–22 (11th Cir. 2012). To survive Rule 12(b)(6) scrutiny, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[F]acial plausibility” exists “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Plaintiff filed this diversity lawsuit, see § 1332(a), after the court denied his untimely and prejudicial motion for leave to amend the complaint in a previously filed, but related, action. See Tisdale v. Wilson (Tisdale I), No. 12cv837 (M.D. Ala. Feb. 4, 2014) (Order denying motion to amend the complaint for a third time). The claims in this action (Tisdale II) are the claims that Plaintiff was not permitted to assert in Tisdale I in a Third Amended Complaint.
Some background of the pleadings in Tisdale I and Tisdale II is helpful for resolution of Defendant’s motion to dismiss. In the operative Second Amended Complaint, filed June 5, 2013, in Tisdale I, Plaintiff, a real estate developer in Covington County, Alabama, alleges that in August 2012, Defendant Wilson decided to run for mayor of the City of Andalusia, Alabama. During his campaign, at a public meeting Defendant allegedly made false statements about Plaintiff, insinuating that Plaintiff entered into a corrupt deal with the City of Andalusia. The deal, according to Defendant, included the City’s purchase of the Bass Building at a grossly inflated price with a requirement that Plaintiff use one-half of the sale proceeds to renovate the Prestwood Building in Andalusia. But allegedly in exchange for Plaintiff’s support of the incumbent mayor, including the posting of the mayor’s campaign signs on Plaintiff’s properties, the City subsequently overlooked Plaintiff’s failure to make improvements to the Prestwood Building and refrained from enforcing the City’s nuisance laws against Plaintiff. Defendant’s comments at the public meeting resulted in a heated exchange between Plaintiff, Defendant, and the incumbent mayor. Information about this exchange appeared in the Andalusia Star-News in August 2012. Defendant also placed information about it on his Facebook page in August 2012 and made additional similar comments about Plaintiff during a speech given the same month. Parts of the speech were replayed on Defendant’s television station, W40BE, in Andalusia. Plaintiff claims that these statements were false and hurt his professional reputation.
In Tisdale II, filed on April 11, 2014, Plaintiff goes back in time to June and July 2012, alleging that Defendant Wilson “began making defamatory comments about [him] and his properties on Facebook before numerous viewers.” (Compl. ¶ 9.) Those comments concerned a deal between the City and Plaintiff for an exchange of properties for the purpose of the City’s development of an entertainment district. Defendant’s insinuation again was that Plaintiff and the City were in cahoots, that Plaintiff was making a sizeable profit at the expense of the City, and that the City continued to overlook enforcement of nuisance laws against Plaintiff. In Tisdale II, Plaintiff also fast forwards to January 2013 and September 2013, when Defendant allegedly posted negative comments on his Facebook page about other property Plaintiff owned. In the January post, Defendant called Plaintiff a “greedy soul” in connection with Plaintiff’s alleged overpricing of lots in a subdivision he developed in Andalusia, and in the September post, Defendant called Plaintiff a “bastard” and falsely accused Plaintiff of not paying workers’ compensation benefits that were owed. (Compl. ¶¶ 20, 21.) Plaintiff also makes other allegations that in November 2013, a state employee, who is Defendant’s “close friend, ” removed signs from Plaintiff’s property in Andalusia and that Defendant watched from a distance in a parked car. (Compl. ¶¶ 39–41.)
The causes of action in Tisdale I and II are the same. They are state-law causes for defamation, intentional interference with business relations, and wantonness. Plaintiff and Defendant also are parties in both actions. Tisdale I includes an additional Defendant, Three Notch Communications, LLC, which operates a local radio and television station in Andalusia, and is owned by Defendant Wilson.
Defendant argues, first, that Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit “to harass Defendant . . . in a blatant attempt to circumvent the parallel proceedings” and contends that dismissal is appropriate to prevent Plaintiff “from pursuing this multiplicative and vexatious litigation.” (Doc. # 5, at 1–2.) Alternatively, Defendant moves for dismissal for failure to state a claim upon ...