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Andresen v. International Paper Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 11, 2014

JARED ANDRESEN, ET AL.
v.
INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY, ET AL.

Douglas Silverstein, Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs.

Amy Gillinger, Attorneys Present for Defendants.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL O'

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF YEGHIA BEKIARIAN'S COUNTERCLAIM IN REPLY (Dkt. #61, filed July 14, 2014)

I. INTRODUCTION

On February 13, 2013, plaintiffs Jared Andresen, Yeghia Bekiarian, and John Duffy filed suit against defendants International Paper Company, d/b/a Container the Americas ("IP") and Does 1-50 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. IP removed the action to this Court on March 22, 2013. Dkt. #1. The operative second amended complaint ("SAC") asserts claims for failure to pay vested vacation wages upon termination, in violation of Labor Code § 227.3, [1] failure to pay wages, waiting time penalties pursuant to Labor Code §§ 202-03, violation of the Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, et seq., violation of the record-keeping provisions set forth in Labor Code § 226, breach of contract, and promissory estoppel. Dkt. #21. IP filed an amended answer on April 23, 2014, in which it asserts assert counterclaims against Bekiarian for breach of the duty of loyalty, breach of fiduciary duty, gross negligence, and intentional misrepresentation. Dkt. #43. On June 24, 2014, in response to IP's counterclaims, Bekiarian filed an answer and counterclaim in reply. Dkt. #61. The reply counterclaim asserts a single claim for indemnification based on Labor Code § 2802, California Corporations Code § 317, and IP's corporate bylaws. Reply Countercl. ¶¶ 112-18.

On July 14, 2014, IP filed a motion to dismiss the reply counterclaim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. #61. Bekiarian filed an opposition on July 21, 2014, dkt. #63, and IP replied on May 26, 2014, dkt. #64. The Court held a hearing on August 11, 2014. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are former employees of defendant who allege that defendant has deprived them of severance pay, vested vacation wages, and commissions that they accrued during their employment. See generally SAC. The crux of IP's counterclaims is that, to the extent that IP is liable to plaintiffs for accrued vacation pay, Bekiarian is partially responsible for creating this liability. Specifically, IP alleges that Bekiarian "created and subjected Crockett, [Temple-Inland, and IP] to material contingent paid vacation accrual liability" as to certain sales representatives, including plaintiffs Andresen and Duffy, while at the same time instructing human resources and accounting employees under his control not to provide paid vacation for IP's sales representatives, and not to account for accruing vacation pay liability. Countercl. ¶¶ 5-20.

In the reply counterclaim, Bekiarian alleges that, to the extent that IP has incurred any liability as a result of Bekiarian's actions, this liability was incurred as a result of Bekiarian carrying out his duties as an employee of IP. Reply Countercl. ¶¶ 114-15.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in a complaint or counterclaim. "While a [pleading] 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 pleading, 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 pleading 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 [pleading], 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 [pleading] 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 [counterclaim] 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 counterclaim (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 counterclaim and matters that may be judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of ...


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