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Jerry Simpson, Jr v. Interscope Giffen A&M Records

May 26, 2011

JERRY SIMPSON, JR.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERSCOPE GIFFEN A&M RECORDS, A DIVISION OF UMG RECORDINGS, INC. ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE AND RELATED ORDERS

Doc. # 38

This is an action by plaintiff Jerry Simpson, Jr. ("Plaintiff"), a pro se litigant, against defendant Interscope Giffen A&M Records (erroneously sued as "Innerscope A&M Giffen Records") ("Defendant") and a recording artist named "Fergie" (collectively "Defendants"). Plaintiff's original complaint, which was filed September 10, 2009, was dismissed with leave to amend pursuant to Rule 8(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by the court's order filed on March 31, 2010 (hereinafter, the "March 31 Order"). Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") was filed on December 28, 2010. The court's March 31 Order dismissed Plaintiff's original complaint with leave to amend but cautioned Plaintiff that any amended pleading that fails "to allege both the conduct that damaged Plaintiff and the legal basis for liability [. . .] will be dismissed with prejudice." Doc. # 25 at 5:15-17. On January 18, 2011, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss Plaintiff's FAC pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement. For the reasons that follow, the court will conclude Plaintiff's FAC fails both to conform to the requirements set out in the court's March 31 Order, and fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted. The court will accordingly dismiss Plaintiff's FAC with prejudice.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

As the court noted in its March 31 Order, Plaintiff's original complaint failed to clearly articulate a legal theory for relief or set forth facts that would support any obvious theory of relief. The complaint was dismissed pursuant to Rule 8(b) with leave to amend. The court found the original complaint largely unintelligible and expressed its concern that there was no apparent factual or legal basis for relief. Following the March 31 Order, Plaintiff filed a number of pleadings including a motion for reconsideration, a motion for summary judgment and a motion for writ of possession. These motions were collectively denied by the court's order of January 13, 2011. Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for a more definite statement on January 18, 2011. Plaintiff's opposition was filed on January 31, 2011. Defendant's reply was filed on February 18, 2011. Since the filing of Plaintiff's opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss, Plaintiff has filed other documents whose purpose is not completely apparent but which touch upon Plaintiff's contentions as set forth in the FAC. See Doc. #'s 40 ("Opposition of Plaintiff to Defendants' Counsel"), 41 ("Letter"), 44 ("Letter"), and 47 ("Motion for Verdict"). Most recently Plaintiff filed a document titled "Motion for Verdict" at Doc. # 47. The court has reviewed these submissions and finds that they have no substantial bearing on the issues currently before the court.

Plaintiff's factual allegations and legal assertions, such as they can be discerned by the court, will be discussed below.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The purpose of the complaint is to provide the opposing party with fair notice of the claim against it. Lynn v. Sheet Metal Workers' Intern. Ass'n, 804 F.2d 1472, 1482 (9th Cir. 1986). The Federal Rules have rejected the approach that pleading is a game in which one misstep by a party may be decisive to the outcome, and the Federal Rules require the court to construe pleadings liberally. Id. Although the Federal Rules have adopted this flexible pleading policy, a complaint must still give fair notice and state the elements of the claim plainly and succinctly. Jones v. Community Redev. Agency, 733 F.2d 646, 649 (9th Cir. 1984) (quoting 2A James W. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 8.13 at 8-111 (2d ed. 1983)). The plaintiff must allege, with at least some degree of particularity, overt acts which the defendants engaged in that support the plaintiff's claim. Id.

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure can be based on the failure to allege a cognizable legal theory or the failure to allege sufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 533-34 (9th Cir.1984). To withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must set forth factual allegations sufficient "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) ("Twombly"). While a court considering a motion to dismiss must accept as true the allegations of the complaint in question, Hospital Bldg. Co. v. Rex Hospital Trustees, 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), and must construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolve factual disputes in the pleader's favor, Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421, reh'g denied, 396 U.S. 869 (1969), the allegations must be factual in nature. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 ("a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do"). The pleading standard set by Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "does not require 'detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) ("Iqbal").

The Ninth Circuit follows the methodological approach set forth in Iqbal for the assessment of a plaintiff's complaint:

"[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief."

Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 970 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950).

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff's FAC is a 58-page assemblage of what appears to be mostly past communications to and from the court, along with some drawings of the product in question and some correspondence with a firm called Lambert & Lambert that is evidently in the business of providing consultation to inventors. The first three pages of the FAC consist of a pre-printed fill-out-the-blanks form that is intended for use by prisoners who wish to file a civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. There is also a two-page attachment that is addressed to Magistrate Judge Sheila Oberto, apparently based on the mistaken impression that the action has been submitted to magistrate jurisdiction. Although Plaintiff's FAC is clearly improper as to form, the court will, to the best of its ability, look past formal pleading deficiencies to determine if there is actual substance to Plaintiff's alleged facts and whether there is a discernable legal theory being asserted.

While Plaintiff's factual assertions are far from clear, there is a narrative that emerges from the scatter of documents that comprise Plaintiff's FAC. It appears that sometime around 2002, Plaintiff conceived a device called an "Arch Edge Were Wing Extension Free Weight Butterfly Press" (hereinafter, the "Butterfly Press" or "Invention"). On or about February 2006 Plaintiff sent drawings (and perhaps other descriptive material) to Lambert & Lambert, a company that apparently provides, among other things, feasibility assessment and other consultation services to would-be inventors. Drawings submitted to Lambert & Lambert and a portion of the evaluative report issued by that company are attached to the FAC at pages 30 through 38. Based on the drawings and correspondence to and from Lambert & Lambert included in the FAC, the court concludes Plaintiff's Invention was a species of sliding-weight-on-guide-rack type of exercise device intended for home and/or gym use. One component of ...


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