United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Melanie Tolbert brings this claim under the Copyright Act (17
U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq.) and Alabama tort
law against High Noon Productions, LLC and Discovery, Inc.
Defendant High Noon moves to dismiss the action under Rule
12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 9).
Defendants High Noon and Discovery move to dismiss the
copyright claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) and move to dismiss the entire action under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(7) and 19. Defendants
alternatively move for a more definite statement under Rule
12(e). Finally, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's
unjust enrichment claim as preempted by the Copyright Act and
to dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims for damages as
impermissibly speculative. In the event this court concludes
it cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant High
Noon, Plaintiff moves this court to transfer High Noon to an
appropriate jurisdiction. (Doc. 19).
following reasons, the court will DENY Plaintiff's motion
to transfer Defendant High Noon, GRANT Defendant High
Noon's motion to dismiss for lack of personal
jurisdiction, and DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE High Noon from
the case. The court will DENY Defendant Discovery's
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) and 19. Alternatively,
the court will GRANT Defendant's motion for a more
definite statement Rule 12(e). The court will GRANT
Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's unjust
enrichment claim as preempted and will DENY Defendant's
motion to dismiss some of Plaintiff's claims for damages
Standards of Review
12(b)(2) motion to dismiss standard of review
High Noon moves to dismiss Ms. Tolbert's claims against
it for lack of personal jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). When a defendant moves to
dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, “the
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case
of jurisdiction over the movant, non-resident
defendant.” Morris v. SSE, Inc., 843 F.2d 489,
492 (11th Cir. 1988) (internal citations omitted).
may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident
defendant only when a plaintiff shows that the defendant had
sufficient contacts with the forum state to satisfy both the
requirements of the state's long-arm statute and the due
process requirements of the United States Constitution.
Williams Electric Co. v. Honeywell, Inc., 854 F.2d
389, 391 (11th Cir. 1988). The Alabama Supreme Court has
interpreted Alabama's long-arm statute as extending as
far as the limits permitted by constitutional due process.
Elliott v. Van Kleef, 830 So.2d 726, 729 (Ala.
the constitutional requirements of due process, a court may
exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant when (1) the
defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts” with
the forum state and (2) the exercise of jurisdiction would
comport with “traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice.” Vermeulen v. Renault, U.S.A.,
Inc., 985 F.2d 1534, 1545 (11th Cir. 1993) (quoting
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310,
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss standard of review
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of
the complaint. Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure require only that the complaint provide
“‘a short and plain statement of the claim'
that will give the defendant fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). A plaintiff must provide
the grounds of her entitlement, but Rule 8 generally does not
require “detailed factual allegations.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley, 355 U.S. at 47). It does, however,
“demand more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
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 or conclusions” or
“naked assertions” without supporting factual
allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.
Supreme Court explained that “[t]o survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting and explaining its decision in
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To be plausible on its
face, the claim must contain enough facts that “allow
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678. 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. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are
merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it
‘stops short of the line between possibility and
plausibility of entitlement to relief.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). If
the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as
true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claim must
be dismissed. Id.
19 motion to dismiss standard of review
Defendants also move to dismiss Ms. Tolbert's claims
pursuant to Rule 19(b), asserting that several individuals
mentioned but not identified by name in the complaint are
indispensable parties she has not joined. More accurately,
they bring this motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(7), which
provides that a party may present by motion the defense that
the complaint should be dismissed “for failure to join
a party under Rule 19.” Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(7).
courts addressing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(7) and
Rule 19 undertake a two-step inquiry. The first step is
deciding whether the absent party is a “required
party” within the meaning of Rule 19. See Molinos
Valle del Cibao v. Lama, 633 F.3d 1330, 1344 (11th Cir.
2011). If the absent party is “required” and can
be joined, then “the court must order that the person
be made a party.” Fed. R. Civ. P 19(a)(2). In step two,
if the absent party is “required” but cannot be
joined, then the court must consider whether, “in
equity and good conscience, the action should proceed among
the existing parties or should be dismissed.”
this decision, the district court considers the factors
listed in Rule 19(b):
(1) the extent to which a judgment rendered in the
person's absence might prejudice that person or the
(2) the extent to which any prejudice could be lessened or
(A) protective provisions in the judgment;
(B) shaping the relief; or
(C) other measures;
(3) whether a judgment rendered in the person's absence
would be adequate; and
(4) whether the plaintiff would have an adequate remedy if
the action were dismissed for non-joinder.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(b) (1)-(4). The court may look not only at
the pleadings but also at evidence that the parties present.
See Estes v. Shell Oil Co., 234 F.2d 847, 849 n. 5
12(e) motion for more definite statement ...