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Juice Entertainment, LLC, Thomas Dorfman, and Chris Barrett v. Live Nation Entertainment

July 3, 2012

JUICE ENTERTAINMENT, LLC, THOMAS DORFMAN, AND CHRIS BARRETT, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LIVE NATION ENTERTAINMENT, INC., DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

Defendant Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (Live Nation) brings a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Court will decide the Motion on the papers. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b). The Motion is granted in part and denied in part.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

All factual background consists of facts as alleged by Plaintiffs, which are accepted as true for the purpose of deciding this Motion to Dismiss. On December 1, 2010, the President of State Fair Event Management (SFEM) granted Plaintiffs the right to produce a dance event for the New Jersey State Fair for the next five years. Compl. ¶ 18. This verbal agreement was memorialized in an Engagement Letter stating that a formal contract would be signed later. Id. In January or February 2011, William Morris Talent Agency (William Morris) expressed interest in working with Plaintiffs. Id. at ¶ 19. Plaintiffs' March 7, 2011 contract with SFEM gave them the right to produce the dance event for four years starting in 2011. There was an option to renew for an additional five years. Id. Ex. A 2. Plaintiffs had 30 days from March 1, 2011 to provide copies of contracts with artists signed to perform at the 2011 Fair. Id. at ¶ 22, Ex. A 3-4, Ex. B.

Prior to the contract between SFEM and Plaintiffs being signed, Plaintiffs allege that representatives of Live Nation told SFEM that Plaintiffs were "broke" and lacked expertise. Id. at ¶ 21. Plaintiffs claim that "Live Nation falsely stated to the [owner of the venue where the Fair was to take place] that Plaintiffs associated with 'thieves' and could not be trusted." Id. at ¶ 26.

On or before February 18, 2011, Live Nation representatives told SFEM that they were "blocking" Tiesto, a DJ, from performing under Plaintiffs' contract. Id. at ¶ 23. Live Nation threatened Tiesto "that he would not be permitted to play at other venues controlled by Live Nation if he appeared at the State Fair." Id. at ¶ 23. Live Nation told SFEM and Plaintiffs that "the William Morris talent agency belonged 'exclusively' to Live Nation and that no artists represented by William Morris would be permitted to sign contracts with Juice Entertainment to appear at the State Fair." Id. at ¶ 24. Two named representatives of Live Nation told Plaintiffs "that Live Nation would use its influence with talent agents to prevent Juice Entertainment from signing artists if Live Nation were not permitted to become a partner .." Id. at ¶ 29-30.

Plaintiffs also allege that on or before February 18, 2011, Live Nation "applied pressure" on the venue, with which Live Nation has an exclusive contract to provide ticketing services. Id. at ¶ 25. "Live Nation representatives threatened that unless they were given part of the contract ., they would make ticketing services unavailable for the State Fair .." Id. at ¶ 27. Plaintiffs allege that they were told directly by two named representatives of Live Nation that it "would use its relationship" with the venue "to pressure SFEM" to cancel Plaintiffs' contract. Id. at ¶ 30.

Plaintiffs allege that "Live Nation carried out its threats and blocked Plaintiffs from signing artists in time to meet the requirements of the Agreement [with SFEM]." Id. at ¶ 31. On April 26, 2011, SFEM cancelled its contract with Plaintiffs due to their failure to furnish copies of contracts with artists who were to perform at the 2011 Fair. Id. Plaintiffs claim that the contract was terminated due to "defamatory statements made to representatives of SFEM, pressure applied to artists and their agents, and pressure applied to SFEM" and the venue. Id.

Plaintiffs' Complaint consists of five counts: I) Tortious Interference with Contract; II) Unlawful Interference with Contract; III) Tortious Interference with Business Relations; IV) Defamation; and V) Unfair Competition. On March 16, 2012, Defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

On a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts are required to accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). "[A] court looks only to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments without reference to other parts of the record." Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994). The Court determines "whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the Plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Pinker v. Roche Holding Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002). Courts conduct a two-part analysis:

First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief."

Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-211 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v.Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009)). Facial plausibility arises when "the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. "Although . we must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we 'are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Id. at 1949-50 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 ...


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