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Dickinson Frozen Foods, Inc. v. FPS Food Process Solutions Corp.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 22, 2018

DICKINSON FROZEN FOODS, INC., Plaintiff/Counterdefendant,
v.
FPS FOOD PROCESS SOLUTIONS CORPORATION, Defendant/Counterclaimant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye U.S. District Court Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff/Counterdefendant Dickinson Frozen Foods, Inc.'s (“Dickinson”) Motion to Dismiss Count Four of Defendant/Counterclaimant FPS Food Process Solutions Corporation's (“FPS”) Counterclaim. Dkt. 17. The Motion is fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review. Having reviewed the record herein, the Court finds the parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court decides the Motions without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT the Motion and dismiss Count Four of FPS's Counterclaim. However, the Court will grant FPS leave to amend its Counterclaim to cure deficiencies outlined in this decision.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This suit arises out of Dickinson's purchase of an Individual Quick Freeze tunnel freezer machine (the “Freezer”) from FPS in 2016 for its processing plant in Sugar City, Idaho. After installation, complications arose with the Freezer. Dickinson alleges that FPS is liable for lost profits and damages because the Freezer failed to perform to contract specifications.

         Along with its answer, FPS filed a counterclaim against Dickinson alleging that it was in fact Dickinson, not FPS, who failed to perform its obligations under the contract. FPS also asserted a claim for defamation per se against Dickinson. Dickinson then filed the instant Motion to Dismiss FPS's defamation claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim challenges the legal sufficiency of the claims stated in the complaint. Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011). “A complaint generally must satisfy the notice pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) to avoid dismissal under a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.” Id. (citing Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003)). “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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

         To sufficiently state a claim for relief and survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the pleading “does not need detailed factual allegations;” however, the “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. Mere “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. Rather, there must be “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. In other words, the 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).

         In light of Twombly and Iqbal, the Ninth Circuit summarized the governing standard as follows: “In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         In deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the pleading under attack. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. A court is not, however, “required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).

         When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court must normally convert a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into one for summary judgment under Rule 56 if the court considers evidence outside of the pleadings. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 907 (9th Cir. 2003). However, a court may consider certain materials, such as documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice, without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 908.

         In cases decided after Iqbal and Twombly, the Ninth Circuit has continued to adhere to the rule that a dismissal of a complaint without leave to amend is inappropriate unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint could not be saved by an amendment. See Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009).

         IV. ...


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