United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
SALTY FIN HOLDINGS, LLC and MICHAEL A. LETTS, Plaintiffs,
SALTY FIN INTERNATIONAL, LLC, THE SALTY FIN REAL ESTATE COMPANY, LLC, SALTY FIN REALTY, LLC, SALTY FIN, LLC, SALTY FIN HOLDINGS & REALTY, LLC, and STACY AGRAN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND
DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
an action for trade dress infringement and false designation
of origin under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) and related claims
arising under state law. The Court has jurisdiction over this
matter under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1367.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss brought
under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
ECF No. 31. Having carefully considered the motion, the
response, the reply, the record, and the applicable law, it
is the judgment of the Court Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part. The Court
will grant the portion of the Motion to Dismiss requesting
the Court dismiss the claims asserted by Plaintiff Michael A.
Letts (Letts), and the Court will deny the remainder of the
Motion to Dismiss.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed their initial complaint in the Court of Common Pleas
for Richland County, South Carolina, on April 27, 2016. ECF
No. 1-1. Defendants filed a notice of removal on June 3,
2016, and removed the case to this Court. ECF No. 1.
filed a motion to dismiss the initial complaint under Rule
12(b)(6) on June 10, 2016. ECF No. 9. In Plaintiffs'
response to the motion, they requested leave to amend the
complaint. ECF No. 17. On November 21, 2016, the Court
entered a text order granting Plaintiffs leave to amend the
complaint and dismissing without prejudice Defendants'
motion to dismiss the initial complaint. ECF No. 24.
filed an amended complaint on December 2, 2016. ECF No. 25.
Plaintiffs subsequently filed two additional amended
complaints to correct clerical errors. ECF Nos. 26, 28. The
operative complaint was filed on December 7, 2016
(Complaint). ECF No. 28.
Complaint asserts claims for common law trademark
infringement, trade dress infringement and false designation
of origin under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(A), breach of
fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, breach of contract,
violation of the South Carolina Trade Secrets Act, violation
of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, fraud,
negligence/gross negligence, civil conspiracy, and
constructive fraud. Id. The claims are all asserted
against Defendants collectively and arise out of
Defendants' alleged misappropriation of Plaintiffs'
trademark, trade dress, and trade secrets and the business
relations between Plaintiffs and Defendants. See id.
filed the Motion to Dismiss currently before the Court on
December 21, 2016. ECF No. 31. Plaintiffs responded on
January 26, 2017, ECF No. 34, and Defendants filed a reply on
February 2, 2017, ECF No. 35. Having been fully briefed on
the relevant issues, the Court is now prepared to discuss the
merits of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
purpose of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is to test the sufficiency
of a complaint.” Edwards v. City of Goldsboro,
178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). To survive a motion to
dismiss, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require a
complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “In alleging fraud or mistake, a
party must state with particularity the circumstances
constituting fraud or mistake.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b).
Rule 8(a) does not require “‘detailed factual
allegations, '” it requires “more than an
unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation,
” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007)), to “‘give the defendant fair notice
of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests, '” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
In other words, “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 Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). A claim is facially plausible “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).
considering a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pled
allegations are taken as true, and the complaint and all
reasonable inferences are liberally construed in the
plaintiff's favor. MylanLabs., Inc. v.
Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993). The Court
may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, which
may include any documents either attached to or incorporated
in the complaint, and matters of which the Court may take
judicial notice. Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues &
Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007). Although the
Court must accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as
true, any conclusory allegations are unentitled to an
assumption of truth, and even those allegations pled with
factual support need be accepted only to the extent
“they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to
relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at ...