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William Klawonn v. Ya Global Investments

August 10, 2011

WILLIAM KLAWONN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
YA GLOBAL INVESTMENTS, L.P. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chesler, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION & ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a valid claim for relief, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), by Defendant YA Global Investments, L.P. ("YA Global.") For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

ANALYSIS

I. Governing Legal Standards

A. Standard for a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), courts must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings, Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss should be granted only if the plaintiff is unable to articulate "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007). "The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005).

"Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Twombly, 127 S. Ct. at 1964 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, 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, 127 S. Ct. at 1964-65 (internal citations omitted); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Id. at 1965 (internal citations omitted).

Factual allegations must be well-pleaded to give rise to an entitlement to relief:

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider the allegations of the complaint, as well as documents attached to or specifically referenced in the complaint, and matters of public record. Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 259 (3d Cir. 1998); see also 5B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure: Civil 3d § 1357 (3d ed. 2007). "Plaintiffs cannot prevent a court from looking at the texts of the documents on which its claim is based by failing to attach or explicitly cite them." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997).

The Supreme Court has characterized dismissal with prejudice as a "harsh remedy." New York v. Hill, 528 U.S. 110, 118 (2000). Dismissal of a count in a complaint with prejudice is appropriate if amendment would be inequitable or futile. Alston v. Parker, 363 F.3d 229, 235 (3d Cir. 2004). "When a plaintiff does not seek leave to amend a deficient complaint after a defendant moves to dismiss it, the court must inform the plaintiff that he has leave to amend within a set period of time, unless amendment would be inequitable or futile." Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002).

II. Defendants' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss

In brief, the Amended Complaint alleges that YA Global profited from trading the stock of NeoMedia Technologies, Inc. ("NeoMedia") in violation of § 16(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. YA Global argues that the Amended Complaint fails to state a valid claim under § 16(b) because it still does not adequately allege that YA Global was a statutory insider subject to § 16 as an officer, director, or beneficial owner of more than 10% of the issuer's common stock during the relevant time period.

This is now familiar ground, as the parties argued this dispute when YA Global first moved to dismiss the Complaint on the same grounds. Plaintiff contends that he has now amended the Complaint to adequately allege sufficient ownership. The Amended Complaint acknowledges the existence of the conversion caps in all the relevant securities agreements (Am. Compl. ΒΆ 55), but contends that the caps were ineffective, based on five theories advanced in Plaintiff's opposition brief. These theories are: 1) the Series C stock conferred voting rights on YA Global which establish greater than 10% beneficial ownership; 2) Neomedia's defaults caused YA Global to be a greater than 10% beneficial owner; 3) YA Global was the beneficial owner of the stock held in "escrow" by Gonzalez; ...


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