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Asset Vision, LLC v. Fielding

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 17, 2013

ASSET VISION, LLC, an Idaho limited liability company, and DEER VALLEY TRUCKING INC., an Idaho corporaiton, Plaintiffs,
v.
CREG FIELDING, an individual, BRAD HALL, an individual, COLE HALL, an individual, and BRAD HALL & ASSOCIATES, INC., an Idaho corporation, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it Brad Hall & Associates, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (Dkt. 27).

LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss "does not need detailed factual allegations, " it must set forth "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555. To 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." Id. 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. Id. at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement, " but it asks for 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. at 557.

The Supreme Court identified two "working principles" that underlie Twombly in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). First, the court need not accept as true, legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. Id. Rule 8 does not "unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Id. at 678-79. Second, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must state a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

Providing too much in the complaint may also be fatal to a plaintiff. Dismissal may be appropriate when the plaintiff has included sufficient allegations disclosing some absolute defense or bar to recovery. See Weisbuch v. County of L.A., 119 F.3d 778, 783, n. 1 (9th Cir. 1997) (stating that "[i]f the pleadings establish facts compelling a decision one way, that is as good as if depositions and other... evidence on summary judgment establishes the identical facts").

A dismissal without leave to amend is improper unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint "could not be saved by any amendment." Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009. The Ninth Circuit has held that "in dismissals for failure to state a claim, a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Cook, Perkiss and Liehe, Inc. v. Northern California Collection Service, Inc., 911 F.2d 242, 247 (9th Cir. 1990). The issue is not whether plaintiff will prevail but whether he "is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Diaz v. Int'l Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, 474 F.3d 1202, 1205 (9th Cir. 2007)(citations omitted).

BACKGROUND

Defendant Creg Fielding, a former employee of Deer Valley Trucking, helped develop source code for tracking, ticketing, and managing oil field trucking services. The source code is called Asset Vision. Plaintiffs allege that they registered the copyright for Asset Vision, and that defendants have infringed on it. Plaintiffs filed their Complaint alleging copyright infringement and related claims on July 2, 2013. They filed their Amended Complaint about a month later. Defendant, Brad Hall & Associates, Inc. ("BH&A") now asks the Court to dismiss the claims against it.

ANALYSIS

1. Copyright Claim

BH&A first asks the Court to dismiss Plaintiffs' copyright infringement claim. To prevail on a copyright infringement claim, a plaintiff "must demonstrate (1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original." Benay v. Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., 607 F.3d 620, 624 (9th Cir. 2010) (Internal citations and quotations omitted). For purposes of this motion, BH&A concedes element one - that Plaintiffs have alleged ownership of a valid ...


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