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Dos Beaches, LLC v. Mail Boxes Etc.

July 29, 2010

DOS BEACHES, LLC AND MELINDA M. RAYTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAIL BOXES ETC., INC. AND UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Larry Alan Burns United States District Judge

ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

Pending before the Court is Mail Boxes Etc.'s motion to dismiss Dos Beaches' complaint. Plaintiff Dos Beaches is the Limited Liability Company of Melinda Rayter. Through Dos Beaches, Rayter operates a Mail Boxes Etc. franchise called The UPS Store in Indiana. The theme of the complaint is that Mail Boxes Etc., through successive Area Franchise Managers (Ted and Kate Von Eiff, Susan Scott, and Andrew Tian) and some peripheral actors (a real estate broker named Scott Courtney, a building contractor named Scott Ridgeway, a competitor named Max Molinaro, and another real estate broker named Ron Mannon) made it very difficult for Dos Beaches to operate a successful UPS Store franchise. Central to Dos Beaches' claims is a Franchise Agreement entered into by the parties in September 2004.

The motion to dismiss appears to rely on both Rule 8 and Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court finds that the complaint lacks "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(1), and ought to be dismissed on this ground alone - without prejudice and with leave to amend.

The Court understands that this result might frustrate both parties, given the amount of time the motion has been under submission. The Court has invested a considerable amount of time in the pleadings of this case, however, and believes it would be hazardous to attempt to adjudicate Dos Beaches' claims on the merits when the factual bases of those claims are so bloated.

The problem with Dos Beaches' complaint ought to be plain to any reader. At 30 pages and over 300 paragraphs, it reads as a running commentary of grievances rather than a thoughtful account of what precisely the Defendants did that entitles Dos Beaches to legal relief. The main cause of action for breach of contract only exacerbates this problem. Not only does it allege new facts that don't appear in the body of the complaint, it contains, on the Court's count, twelve distinct grievances, only some of which have an alleged basis in contracts entered into by the parties:

1) A statement of "Risk Factors" signed by Dos Beaches recommends that a franchisee retain its own attorney and real estate broker to negotiate a commercial lease, but Mail Boxes Etc. prevented Dos Beaches from doing so. (Compl. ¶¶ 178--82.)

2) The Franchise Agreement allows Dos Beaches the use of the UPS trademark, but a real estate agent for the Defendants neglected to secure that right in a commercial lease he negotiated on Dos Beaches' behalf with its landlord. (Compl. ¶¶ 182--200.)

3) The Franchise Agreement obligates Mail Boxes Etc. to provide a "Center Design," but this "was not properly done." (Compl. ¶¶ 201--02.)

4) The Franchise Agreement obligates Mail Boxes Etc. to provide "Center Development Coordination," but this "was not done properly." (Compl. ¶ 203.)

5) The Franchise Agreement provides that Dos Beaches can employ its own architects and general contractors, but Mail Boxes Etc. didn't allow Dos Beaches to do so. (Compl. ¶¶ 204--05.)

6) The "Risk Factors" statement provides the same, but Dos Beaches was forced to work with Scott Ridgeway, with whom it had an adversarial relationship and whose work it found unsatisfactory. (Compl. ¶¶ 206--224.)

7) Dos Beaches paid for a Grand Opening that was supposed to be coordinated by the Area Franchise Manager. (Compl. ¶¶ 238--39.)

8) Mail Boxes Etc. didn't supply Dos Beaches with marketing materials to which it was entitled. (Compl. ¶¶ 240--41.)

9) Even though Dos Beaches relied upon an area south of its store for customers, Mail Boxes Etc. allowed a competing franchisee to relocate there, and to a specific location previously ...


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