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Solutions Partners, Inc. v. Thomas

May 21, 2010

SOLUTIONS PARTNERS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH THOMAS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Solution Partners, Inc.'s ("SPI") Motion to Dismiss defendant Joseph Thomas's counterclaim. For the reasons expressed below, SPI's motion will be granted and Thomas's counterclaim will be dismissed, with leave to amend.

I. Jurisdiction

This Court has diversity jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims and defendant's counterclaim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Plaintiff, SPI, is a corporation, organized under the laws of the State of California, with its principal place of business in Los Gatos, California. Defendant, Thomas, is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleges an amount in controversy exceeding the sum of $75,000.

II. Background

SPI is an information technology solutions company that provides consulting services to companies throughout the United States.*fn1 In November 2008, Thomas and Scott Stein agreed to form a partnership to work in tandem with SPI. Thomas refused to sign an employment agreement devoid of any provisions relating to their partnership, but he nonetheless agreed to work with SPI and Stein as an at-will consultant.

One of Thomas's clients included South Jersey Healthcare, whom he served as a consultant. Although he performed services for South Jersey Healthcare during his relationship with SPI, South Jersey Healthcare remained Thomas's client.

On or around March 31, 2009, Thomas resigned from his position with SPI. Several months later, in September 2009, SPI filed a suit in this Court against Thomas. In response to SPI's complaint, Thomas filed an answer and a counterclaim, along with a third-party complaint against Stein. In an attempt to secure a management position with SPI, says Thomas, Stein lured him into a business relationship through material misrepresentations. Moreover, Thomas iterates that South Jersey Healthcare was and is his client, and not SPI's.

As part of his counterclaim, Thomas alleges that SPI tortiously interfered with his contractual relations. In particular, Thomas claims that SPI "has been constantly harassing South Jersey Healthcare for payment of services that were rendered by" Thomas. Through their threats and harassment, Thomas concludes, SPI has intentionally and maliciously interfered with his relationship with South Jersey Healthcare and has caused harmed by depriving him of future assignments with his client.

On November 9, 2009, SPI filed a motion to dismiss Thomas's counterclaim for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Presently before the Court is SPI's Motion to Dismiss.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.*fn2 Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a [claimant] will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1953 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for 'all civil actions' . . . ." (citation omitted)). Under the Twombly/Iqbal standard, the Third Circuit has instructed a two-part analysis. First, a claim's factual and legal elements should be separated; a "district court must accept all of the ...


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