The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Anthony J. BattagliaU.S. District Judge
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Doc. 26]
Presently before the Court is a motion to dismiss the first, fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth*fn1 causes of action of Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), filed by Harold Maxine Moore ("Hal Moore"); State Insulation, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company ("State Insulation - Arizona"); State Insulation, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company ("State Insulation - Nevada"); the 1998 Harold M. Moore Revocable Trust (the "Trust"); and Elaine K. Moore, aka Melanie K. Moore ("Melanie Moore") (collectively referred to as the "Defendants"). (Doc. 26.) For the reasons set forth below, the
GRANTS the motion as to the first and fifth causes of action and DENIES the motion as to the fourth, seventh, and ninth causes of action.
This action arises from Defendant Hal Moore's investment in a limited liability company known as Legacy Pointe, LLC. The "sole purpose" of the company was "to acquire, develop, construct, own, operate and sell an apartment project" located in Knoxville, Tennessee. (SAC, Exh. 3.) Hal Moore initially invested $1.5 million as a capital contribution in the company to obtain 50 percent interest in Legacy Pointe. He also invested millions more in the form of loans and additional capital contributions. (SAC ¶¶ 48, 56, 65, 72, Exh. 3.)
Plaintiff John Hardisty was a member and the Chief Manager of Legacy Pointe, as well as a member of Munson-Hardisty, LLC ("M-H"), the general contractor and builder of the Project. As such, he sought Hal Moore as an investor. (SAC ¶¶ 31, 45-56.) In exchange for waiving his builder's profit on the Project, Plaintiff was to receive "sweat equity" in the company. In particular, he initially received a 27 percent membership interest as the developer, and M-H received a 10 percent membership interest as the builder, 50 percent of which belonged to Plaintiff. (SAC ¶¶ 30-32.)
Plaintiff alleges that Hal Moore, through fraud and coercion, divested him of his sweat equity in the Project and acquired almost all of the ownership interest in Legacy Pointe. He further alleges that Hal Moore and Melanie Moore tricked him into signing numerous documents, without reading them, which enabled Defendants to perpetrate their intended fraud. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants engaged in their fraudulent conduct as part of a single scheme to deprive him of his equity interest in Legacy Pointe and the Project. In doing so, Hal Moore allegedly breached his fiduciary duty to Plaintiff.
Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 19, 2011, and shortly thereafter filed the FAC on August 1, 2011. (Doc. 3.) Defendants Elaine Moore and Mark Peluso filed a motion to dismiss the second and fifth causes of action on October 13, 2011. The Court held a hearing on the motion on December 23, 2011, and granted the motion to dismiss. The second cause of action was dismissed with prejudice, and the fifth cause of action was dismissed with leave to amend. (Doc. 16.)
Plaintiff filed the SAC against all Defendants on January 30, 2012. (Doc. 23.) The first cause of action was changed into a breach of specific promise to answer for the debt of another, and the second of action was changed to aiding and abetting intentional torts. The instant motion to dismiss the first, fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth causes of action of Plaintiff's SAC was filed on February 21, 2012. (Doc. 26.) An opposition and reply were filed on March 10, 2012 and March 23, 2012, respectively. (Docs. 28 and 30.) All documents were considered in the issuance of this Order.
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the pleadings, and allows a court to dismiss a complaint upon a finding that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief be granted. See Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). The court may dismiss a complaint as a matter of law for: (1) "lack of cognizable legal theory," or (2) "insufficient facts under a cognizable legal claim." SmileCare Dental Grp. v. Delta Dental Plan of Cal., 88 F.3d 780, 783 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). However, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Notwithstanding this deference, the reviewing court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949--50, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). It is also improper for the court to assume "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). On the other hand, "[w]hen 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." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1941. The court only reviews the contents of the complaint, accepting all factual allegations as true, and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. al-Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted).
Although the SAC alleges ten causes of action, the instant motion seeks to dismiss only five: * the first claim for breach of specific promise to answer for the debt of another, * the fourth claim for constructive fraud, * the fifth claim for violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1967 ("RICO"), * the seventh claim for material ...