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Malhan v. Anthony Robbins Companies

March 24, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini Judge


Dear Litigants:

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), seeking to dismiss pro-se Plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety.*fn1 Plaintiffs oppose the motion. The Court adjudicates this matter on the papers. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED and Plaintiffs' complaint is DISMISSED in its entirety.


Pro-se Plaintiffs, Capt. Surender and Alina Malhan (Myronova), enrolled by signed contract dated August 17, 2004 (the "Contract")*fn2 in a seminar program (the "Seminar") offered by Defendant Robbins Research International.*fn3 At signing, Plaintiffs paid a total of $20,495.*fn4 The Contract outlined specific procedures by which Plaintiffs could seek refunds if they were dissatisfied with the Seminar. Plaintiffs arranged to attend Defendant's Seminar in Palm Springs, California from December 4-10, 2004. Although they claim to have been verbally assured in advance by Defendant that they would be able to sit together for the duration of the Seminar, upon arrival Plaintiffs were informed that no such preference would be assured; indeed, Plaintiffs were assigned to different groups. After three days disputing their seating arrangements (and during which Plaintiffs attended the Seminar), Plaintiffs chose to leave the Seminar of their own accord; at no point were Plaintiffs asked by Defendants to leave the Seminar. Plaintiffs subsequently failed to follow the refund procedures outlined in the Contract, nor did they return their Seminar materials as required under the Contract. Three months later, Plaintiffs began discussions with Defendants for a refund of their moneys; Plaintiffs claim a full refund was not offered.

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey on November 9, 2005 seeking full refund of the Contract fees; Plaintiffs also seek approximately $62,400 for six days lost wages (Plaintiffs offer scant quantification of this loss), $1,000,000 compensation for mental agony caused by their inability to attend the Robbins lectures and the humiliation of leaving the Seminar, $2,000,000 for "business damages, the strain on marital relations, loss of name, loss of reputation, loss of identity" and "mental programming," and further damages to their business's future value in excess of $10,000,000 in addition to compensation for time spent, and physical duress, litigating this case.

Defendant filed notice to remove the case to federal court on December 22, 2005 under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and 28 U.S.C. § 1441 on diversity grounds. The case was assigned to this Court on January 17, 2005.


A. Standard for Dismissal Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) all allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc., v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff's claims are based upon those documents. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). Moreover, when a document attached to the motion to dismiss, but not submitted with the complaint, is undisputed and authentic and the basis for the plaintiff's claims, a court may consider such a document. Pension Benefit, 998 F.2d at 1196. Likewise, a document attached by a defendant to a motion to dismiss is considered part of the pleading if it is referred to in the complaint and is central to the plaintiff's claims. See Pryor v. NCAA, 288 F.3d 548, 559-60 (3d Cir. 2002). If, after viewing the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, it appears beyond doubt that no relief could be granted "under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations," a court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Zynn v. O'Donnell, 688 F.2d 940, 941 (3d Cir. 1982).

The Court recognizes the long-standing practice of construing pro-se plaintiffs' pleadings liberally. See, e.g. U.S. v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644, 648 (3d Cir. 1999). Moreover, when a motion to dismiss involves a pro-se plaintiff, the court must "find that it is clear 'beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Zynn v. O'Donnell, 688 F.2d at 941 (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972)).

B. Defendant's 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim is GRANTED

It is somewhat difficult to divine from Plaintiffs' pro-se Complaint the exact nature of their claims against Defendant. However, reading the Complaint liberally, it would appear that Plaintiffs seek recompense based on a purported breach of the Contract with Defendants for their enrollment in Defendant's Seminar. To that end, Count One seeks reimbursement of Seminar tuition.

Count Two seeks reimbursement of time loss attributable to Plaintiffs' attending the Seminar. Count Three appears to allege intentional infliction of emotional distress as a result of Defendant's supposed breach, complaining specifically of the "Mental Agony" ...

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