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LLC v. Tuccio

United States District Court, C.D. California

October 28, 2019

STAGE 32, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH TUCCIO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [19]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Stage 32, LLC, (“Stage 32”) brings several claims against Joseph Tuccio, Dorian Connelley, Erica Bardin, and Roadmap Writers involving misappropriation of proprietary information. Stage 32 claims Defendants hacked into Stage 32's e-mail system, server, and website to assist Roadmap Writers, a competing company. (See First Am. Compl. (“FAC”), ECF No. 8.)

         Defendants Joseph Tuccio (“Tuccio”), Dorian Connelley (“Connelley”), and Roadmap Writers (“Roadmap”)[1] (collectively, “Defendants”) move to dismiss on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff's federal claims are barred by the statute of limitations and the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims; and alternatively (2) Plaintiff fails to state a claim. (See generally Mot. to Dismiss First Am. Compl. (“Mot.”), ECF No. 19.)[2]

         For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Stage 32 alleges that Roadmap engaged in unfair competition by stealing trade secrets and propriety information. (See FAC.) Roadmap is owned and operated by Tuccio and Connelley. (FAC ¶ 17.)

         Stage 32 is an Internet-based social media networking and e-learning company that allows writers, composers, producers, and directors (collectively, “Members”) working in the entertainment industry to network with industry executives. (FAC ¶ 10.) Stage 32 provides an online platform and in-person space where Members can create profiles, attend webinars, and access information about creating and protecting entertainment content. (FAC ¶ 10.) On or about February 2011, Stage 32 began creating source code for Stage 32's website. (FAC ¶ 12.) Stage 32 owns intellectual property rights “developed by and through” the services provided on its platform. (FAC ¶ 11.) It also owns rights to lists of Members on its platform and their information and all rights, title and interest in the website. (FAC ¶¶ 11, 12.)

         In or about October 2013, Stage 32 and Tuccio began to work together to foster relationships between individual writers and executives that worked in Stage 32's space. (FAC ¶ 13.) Tuccio oversaw the consultations, provided customer support of Stage 32's services, and cultivated close relationship with writers. (FAC ¶ 13.) Writers normally sought Tuccio's assistance with their individual cases. (FAC ¶ 13.) In or about October 2014, at the request of Tuccio, Stage 32 hired Bardin to support Tuccio in his role. (FAC ¶ 14.) Neither Tuccio nor Bardin possessed an ownership interest in the results or proceeds of their work. (FAC ¶¶ 13, 14.)

         Stage 32 alleges that as early as 2016, Tuccio and Bardin engaged in activity designed to sabotage Stage 32 and facilitate unfair competition against Stage 32. (FAC ¶ 15.) Without authorization from Stage 32, Tuccio gave writers free executive consultations, valued at tens of thousands of dollars, and significantly overpaid executives using Stage 32 funds. (FAC ¶ 16.) Stage 32 alleges that Tuccio sustained this conduct for so long that he developed personal goodwill with executives and writers, which he later leveraged to establish a competing company, Roadmap. (FAC ¶ 16.)

         While employed at Stage 32, Tuccio set up private calls to discuss Members' futures, and provided friends and family members free script consultation. (FAC ¶¶ 17, 18.) Meanwhile, Bardin accessed Members' contact information from Stage 32's dropbox and then began communicating with individuals that Tuccio had a relationship with. (FAC ¶ 17.) Stage 32 alleges that Tuccio and Bardin rendered identical services to retain Stage 32's clients for Roadmap. (FAC ¶ 17.)

         Ultimately, about three weeks before he left the company, Tuccio accessed, copied, and deleted the entire list of Members' emails off of Stage 32's electronic file system. (FAC ¶19.) Tuccio also solicited and retained one of Stage 32's current employees. (FAC ¶ 20.) Bardin then left the company. (FAC ¶ 21.)

         On March 22, 2016, Tuccio left Stage 32 and the very next day he launched a fully-functioning website that provided services identical to those provided by Stage 32. (FAC ¶ 21.) On or about March 29, 2016, Roadmap sent unsolicited emails to writers encouraging them to use its services. (FAC ¶ 22.)

         Stage 32 thereafter discovered that from February 18, 2016 to January 12, 2017, Tuccio and Bardin engaged in numerous other acts of “unlawful cyber piracy intended to sabotage” Stage 32. (FAC ¶ 23.) Such acts include: (1) at least twice accessing and intentionally crashing Stage 32's servers; (2) on three separate occasions destroying data on the server; (3) taking possession of Stage 32's domain name when it came up for renewal and redirecting customers from Stage 32's website; (4) at least twice gaining unauthorized “super administrative” access to Stage 32's email system to access private and confidential communications; (5) causing Stage 32 to incur excessive data processing fees by uploading hours of blank ...


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