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Wolf v. Travolta

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 2, 2014

ALISA WOLF
v.
JOSEPH JOEY TRAVOLTA.

Dennis Martin, Attorneys Present for Plaintiff.

Lindsay Singer, Attorneys Present for Defendants.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, Judge.

Proceedings: MOTION TO DISMISS (Dkt. 10, filed April 17, 2014)

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

On February 6, 2014, plaintiff Alisa Wolf filed this action against defendants Joseph Travolta, Inclusion Wear, LLC ("Inclusion"), and Little Documentary Films, LLC ("Little"). Plaintiff's operative first amended complaint ("FAC") asserts a single claim for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 501. In brief, plaintiff alleges that she is the founder of Actors for Autism, a non-profit organization that trains disabled adults for jobs in the film industry. FAC ¶ 3. Plaintiff states that she authored, and owns the copyright for, a curriculum outlining the Actors for Autism program; this curriculum is entitled the "Practical Film Vocational Program" ("PFVP"). Id . ¶ 7 & Ex. A. Plaintiff alleges that defendants copied portions of the PFVP into their own competing curriculum document (the "IF Program"). Id . ¶ 8 & Ex. C. Plaintiff asserts that defendants have used this competing curriculum to secure contracts with several sponsoring agencies. Id . ¶ 8.

On April 17, 2014, defendants moved to dismiss the FAC. Dkt. 10. Plaintiff opposed this motion on May 11, 2014, dkt. 11.[1] On June 2, 2014, the Court held a hearing. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a complaint. "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, 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." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[F]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

In considering a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court must accept as true all material allegations in the complaint, as well as all reasonable inferences to be drawn from them. Pareto v. F.D.I.C. , 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998). The complaint must be read in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors , 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington , 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). However, "[i]n keeping with these principles 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009); Moss v. United States Secret Service , 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) ("[F]or a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the non-conclusory factual content, ' and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.") (citing Twombly and Iqbal); Sprewell , 266 F.3d at 988; W. Mining Council v. Watt , 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). Ultimately, "[d]etermining 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." Iqbal , 129 S.Ct. at 1950.

Furthermore, unless a court converts a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment, a court cannot consider material outside of the complaint (e.g., facts presented in briefs, affidavits, or discovery materials). In re American Cont'l Corp./Lincoln Sav. & Loan Sec. Litig. , 102 F.3d 1524, 1537 (9th Cir. 1996), rev'd on other grounds sub nom Lexecon, Inc. v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach , 523 U.S. 26 (1998). A court may, however, consider exhibits submitted with or alleged in the complaint and matters that may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201. In re Silicon Graphics Inc. Sec. Litig. , 183 F.3d 970, 986 (9th Cir. 1999); Lee v. City of Los Angeles , 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001).

For all of these reasons, it is only under extraordinary circumstances that dismissal is proper under Rule 12(b)(6). United States v. City of Redwood City , 640 F.2d 963, 966 (9th Cir. 1981).

As a general rule, leave to amend a complaint which has been dismissed should be freely granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). However, leave to amend may be denied when "the court determines that the allegation of other facts consistent with the challenged pleading could not possibly cure the deficiency." Schreiber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture Co. , 806 ...


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