United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
CAPTIVA RX, LLC, doing business as CAPTIVA PHARMA, and RHETT DANIELS, Plaintiffs,
JAMES JOSEPH DANIELS, JR., Defendant.
MARC T. TREADWELL, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's motion for leave to file an amended answer (Doc. 8) and his motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, alternatively, motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). (Doc. 9). The Plaintiffs consent to the Defendant's motion to file an amended answer, and that motion is GRANTED. Because the Defendant's motion to dismiss was filed more than three weeks after he filed his answer, the Court construes it as a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c). For the following reasons, the Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Plaintiffs allege the following facts, which the Court must accept as true. The Plaintiff Rhett Daniels, his company Plaintiff Captiva RX, LLC ("Captiva"), and his brother Defendant Jimmy Daniels, have been involved in a series of disputes with one another leading up to the present lawsuit. One dispute occurred in August 2010 when Rhett retained Jimmy, an Assistant District Attorney in Bibb County, Georgia, to represent Rhett's company Viadem LLC, but Jimmy did not perform any requested legal services. Their family feud escalated, so Rhett and his wife Elizabeth Trezza moved their family to Fort Myers, Florida to create separation. There, Rhett reorganized Viadem LLC into Captiva with Macoven Pharmaceuticals, LLC as its primary customer. Captiva also entered into a lucrative business arrangement with Argent Development Group, LLC.
On July 14, 2012, Rhett and Jimmy's father called Jimmy to inform him that the family was concerned for Rhett's mental health. The father also asked the Lee County, Florida Sherriff's Office to check on Rhett. Deputies visited Rhett's home and determined he was not a danger to himself or his family. As the deputies were leaving, Fort Myers police officers arrived. Jimmy had called the Fort Myers Police Department, told them he was an Assistant District Attorney, and said Rhett needed to be arrested. Fort Myers officers arrested Rhett and involuntarily committed him at Lee County Vista Hospital ("Vista") pursuant to Florida's Baker Act, F.S.A. § 394.463.
Because the allegations in the police report were "so terrible, " Rhett spent eleven days in involuntary commitment. Rhett was unable to act as manager of Captiva while committed, and thus he was forced to tell business partners why he had been unresponsive. As a result, Captiva lost nearly all business partners, including Macoven and Argent. The Plaintiffs allege they lost business revenue, and Rhett claims he suffered emotional distress.
On August 2, 2012, Rhett, apparently not to be outdone by Jimmy, notified the Georgia Bar he was concerned for Jimmy's mental health. On August 17, 2012, Rhett emailed friends and family, with copies to Jimmy, to request they save any emails related to Jimmy's representation of Viadem. That same day, Jimmy responded by filing a police report in Bibb County alleging that Rhett's emails were intended to intimidate and harass and led Jimmy to fear for his personal safety. Rhett was unaware of this police report until January 23, 2014, when he was arrested at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta. The Bibb County Solicitor's Office charged Rhett with criminal stalking based on the August 17, 2012 police report.
On July 14, 2014, Rhett and Captiva filed this lawsuit. They assert a claim against Jimmy for tortious interference with business relationships. Rhett also asserts claims for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress and a defamation claim based on Jimmy's allegedly false statements in the August 17, 2012 police report. On August 29, 2014, Jimmy moved for judgment on the pleadings.
A. Standard of Review
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), "[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." "Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Douglas Asphalt Co. v. Qore, Inc., 541 F.3d 1269, 1273 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Cannon v. City of W. Palm Beach, 250 F.3d 1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001)). "A motion for judgment on the pleadings is subject to the same standard as is a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss." Provident Mut. Life Ins. Co. of Philadelphia v. City of Atlanta, 864 F.Supp. 1274, 1278 (N.D.Ga. 1994).
To avoid dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "At the motion to dismiss stage, all well-pleaded facts are accepted as true, and the reasonable inferences therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Garfield v. NDC Health Corp., 466 F.3d 1255, 1261 (11th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, "where 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.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "[C]onclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal." Oxford Asset Mgmt., Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2002). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Where there are dispositive issues of law, a court may dismiss a claim regardless of the alleged facts. Marshall Cnty. Bd. of Educ. v. Marshall Cnty. Gas Dist., 992 F.2d 1171, 1174 (11th Cir.1993).
B. Tortious Interference with Business Relationships
The Defendant argues that Rhett and Captiva's claim for tortious interference with business relationships should be dismissed pursuant to the "two-dismissal rule." See Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(B). The Plaintiffs do not object to the Court taking judicial notice of facts ...