United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER (1) DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS AND (2) GRANTING
IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO STRIKE (ECF NOS. 16,
Janis L. Sammartino, United States District Judge
before the Court are Plaintiff Malibu Media, LLC's (1)
Motion to Dismiss Defendant's Counterclaim, (“MTD,
” ECF No. 16), and Motion to Strike Defendant's
Answer to Amended Complaint, (“MTS, ” ECF No.
17). Also before the Court are Defendant Kevin Peterson's
oppositions to the MTD, (“MTD Opp'n, ” ECF
No. 22), and the MTS, (“MTS Opp'n, ” ECF No.
23), and Plaintiff's reply in support of its MTD,
(“MTD Reply, ” ECF No. 27), and MTS, (“MTS
Reply, ” ECF No. 26). The Court vacated the hearing on
the motions and took them under submission without oral
argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). (ECF No.
30.) After considering the parties' arguments and the
law, the Court rules as follows.
Malibu Media, LLC (d/b/a “X-Art.com”) is the
registered owner of several copyrighted works. (First Am.
Compl. (“FAC”) ¶¶ 3, 8, ECF No. 7.)
Plaintiff accuses Defendant Kevin Peterson of infringing
Plaintiff's copyrights by using the BitTorrent file
distribution network (“BitTorrent”) to download,
copy, and distribute Plaintiff's works over the Internet.
(See Id. ¶¶ 10-25 (explaining the
BitTorrent technology, the investigatory steps Plaintiff used
to detect Defendant's alleged infringement, and noting
that Defendant is a “habitual and persistent BitTorrent
user and copyright infringer”).) Plaintiff brings a
sole count of direct infringement under the Copyright Act, 17
U.S.C. § 101 et seq., against Defendant
Peterson. (See generally id.)
filed an Answer to Plaintiff's FAC, asserting affirmative
defenses and a counterclaim. (Answer, ECF No. 12.)
now moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Counterclaim and strike
several of Plaintiff's affirmative defenses. The Court
considers each of Plaintiff's motions in turn.
Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a party to raise by
motion the defense that the complaint “fail[s] to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted, ” generally
referred to as a motion to dismiss. The Court evaluates
whether a complaint states a cognizable legal theory and
sufficient facts in light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
8(a), which requires a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Although Rule 8 “does not require
‘detailed factual allegations, ' . . . it [does]
demand more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). In other words, “a plaintiff's obligation
to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S.
265, 286 (1986)). A complaint will not suffice “if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.' ”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 557).
order to survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.' ” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled
“allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). That is not to say that the claim must be
probable, but there must be “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. Facts “‘merely consistent with'
a defendant's liability” fall short of a plausible
entitlement to relief. Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, the Court need
not accept as true “legal conclusions” contained
in the complaint. Id. This review requires
context-specific analysis involving the Court's
“judicial experience and common sense.”
Id. at 678 (citation omitted). “[W]here the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.' ” Id.
complaint does not survive 12(b)(6) analysis, the Court will
grant leave to amend unless it determines that no modified
contention “consistent with the challenged pleading . .
. [will] cure the deficiency.” DeSoto v. Yellow
Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992)
(quoting Schriber Distrib. Co. v. Serv-Well Furniture
Co., 806 F.2d 1393, 1401 (9th Cir. 1986)).
argues that Defendant's counterclaim for declaratory
relief is repetitious and unnecessary “because it
merely restates issues that are already before this Court;
namely, whether Defendant is liable for the alleged
infringement.” (MTD 2,  ECF No. 16.) Defendant responds
that while the Court has authority to dismiss redundant
counterclaims, here the Court should not dismiss the
counterclaim in order to prevent Plaintiff from seeking an
“easy exit” once it has determined that Defendant
has not infringed (i.e., Defendant might seek fees for having
to defend this suit). (MTD Opp'n 3-4, ECF No. 22.) In
relevant part, Defendant's counterclaim states:
1. Plaintiff has alleged a copyright infringement claim
against Defendant based on the allegation that Defendant has
downloaded or otherwise shared numerous works that
purportedly belong to Plaintiff. . . .
3. Defendant has denied that they are responsible for
downloading or otherwise sharing the works at ...