United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the Motion to Dismiss Craig
Frost and Air Charter Professionals, Inc.'s Counterclaim.
(Doc. # 13). Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant The Barber Vintage
Motorsports Museum (alternatively referred to as
“Plaintiff, ” “Counter-Defendant, ”
or “Barber”) contends that the counterclaim
asserted against it is due to be dismissed on various
grounds. (Id.). The Motion is fully briefed. (Docs.
# 13, 16, 17). For the reasons explained below, the Motion
(Doc. # 13) is due to be granted.
December 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed its Complaint for
Declaratory Judgment and to Quiet Title. (Doc. # 1-1).
Defendants Craig Frost (“Frost”) and Air Charter
Professionals, Inc. (“ACPI” and, collectively
“Defendants” or “Counter-Claimants”)
removed this action to federal court on January 17, 2018.
(Doc. # 1). On January 24, 2018, Defendants filed their
Answer, which included a counterclaim alleging a property
interest in the 2004 MTT Y2K Turbine Motorcycle
(“Motorcycle”) that is the subject of this case.
(Doc. # 3). Plaintiff filed its Answer to Defendants'
Counterclaim on February 14, 2018. (Doc. # 7).
16, 2018, Defendants filed an Amended Answer, Counterclaim,
and Third Party Claim against non-party Mecum Auction, Inc.
(“Mecum”). (Doc. # 11). This Amended Answer also
added a “Counterclaim against Barber, ” which
requests that a judgment be entered against Barber for
actual, compensatory, and punitive damages along with
attorney's fees and costs. (Id. at ¶¶
58-70). In the counterclaim, Frost and ACPI allege that
Barber purchased and took possession of the Motorcycle with
actual or constructive knowledge of its disputed title,
failed to conduct a proper title search before taking
possession of the vehicle, and willfully ignored the results
of a title search that showed or would have showed ACPI was
the rightful owner. (Id. at ¶¶ 59-61).
Counter-Claimants further allege that Barber had notice and
constructive knowledge that Allen Smith, the owner and seller
of the Motorcycle through Mecum's auction, had previously
sold other vehicles with questionable (and sometimes
verifiably fraudulent) ownership and that, despite this
knowledge, Barber persisted in its possession and claim to
the Motorcycle. (Id. at ¶¶ 62-63).
their Counterclaim, Frost and APCI also claim that Barber has
failed to: (1) demand presentment and execution of an
assignment and warranty of title to the Motorcycle as
required by Alabama Code § 32-16-44; (2) register the
license to the Motorcycle as required by Alabama Code §
32-6-61; and (3) register the title to the Motorcycle as
required by Alabama Code § 32-8-30. (Id. at
¶¶ 64-66). They allege that Barber has willfully
failed to register the Motorcycle's license and title
because it knows or has reason to know that such a
registration would be denied due to ACPI's prior
ownership title. (Id. at ¶ 67).
Counter-Claimants also assert that Barber has willfully
refused to deliver possession of the Motorcycle to ACPI
despite numerous demands to do so, Barber's continued use
of possession of the Motorcycle is intended to permanently
deprive ACPI of its possession, and these actions constitute
a felony under Alabama Code § 32-8-81. (Id. at
¶¶ 68-69). On May 30, 2018, Counter-Defendant filed
a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that, as stated, the
counterclaim alleges no discernable cause of action. (Doc. #
13). Below, the court evaluates the form and allegations of
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the
complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleaser is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include
enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that
contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8
standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely
upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked
assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in
the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l. Univ., 495 F.3d
1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement, '” the complaint
must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A
plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to
raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal
evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556.
considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1)
eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely
legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Candield,
Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 Fed. App'x 136, 138
(11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Assn. v. Cigna
Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task
is context specific and, to survive the motion, the
allegations must permit the court based on its
“judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. Further, “courts may
infer from the factual allegations in the complaint
‘obvious alternative explanation[s], ' which
suggest lawful conduct rather than the unlawful conduct the
plaintiff would ask the court to infer.” Am.
Dental, 605 F.3d at 1290 (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 682). If the court determines that well-pleaded
facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is
plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
argues that Frost's and APCI's counterclaim contains
contradictory statements, does not abide by applicable
pleading standards, and is improperly based on alleged
violations of Alabama law. (Docs. # 13, 17).
Counter-Claimants maintain that contradictions in their
pleadings are not grounds for their dismissal and that
Alabama law recognizes civil causes of action for criminal
violations of the Alabama Code. (Doc. # 16). For the reasons
explained below, the court agrees with Barber that the
counterclaim against Barber leaves a reader of the Amended
Answer and Counterclaim (Doc. # 11 at ¶¶ 58-70)
wondering what specific claim or claims Counter-Claimants are
attempting to allege in their pleadings.
The Counterclaim Against Barber Is a Shotgun
the Rules of Federal Civil Procedure, a pleading that states
a claim for relief must contain (1) a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief and (2) a demand for the relief sought, which may
include relief in the alternative or different types of
relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), (3). “Each allegation
must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(d)(1). Additionally, a party must limit its claims, as far
as practicable, to a single set of circumstances and, if
doing so would promote clarify, each claim should be founded
on a separate transaction or occurrence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(b).
“Complaints that violate either Rule 8(a)(2) or Rule
10(b), or both, are often disparagingly referred to as
‘shotgun pleadings.'” Weiland v. ...