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Heitmann v. Compinstall, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 31, 2014

MARGARET M. HEITMANN and ROBERT F. DOUGHERTY, Plaintiffs,
v.
COMPINSTALL, INC., FITZGERALD INVESTIGATIONS, LLC, and PAUL D. HEITMANN, Defendants.

ARCHER & GREINER P.C. Vincent P. Sarubbi, Esq., Laura Descioli Link, Esq. Haddonfield, New Jersey, Counsel for Plaintiffs.

BROWN & CONNERY LLP, Christine P. O'Hearn, Esq., Michael Miles, Esq., Westmont, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendant Compinstall, Inc.

PAUL D. HEITMANN, Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Pro Se.

OPINION

JOSEPH E. IRENAS, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant Compinstall, Inc.'s ("Compinstall") Motion to Dismiss Counts One and Four for Failure to State a Claim Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and Defendant Paul Heitmann's Motion to Dismiss the state-law claims in Counts One and Three.[1] For the reasons set forth below, Compinstall's Motion will be granted as to Count Four. The Court will decline to exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over the remaining counts, which contain state-law claims. Therefore Compinstall's Motion as to Count One, and Paul Heitmann's Motion as to Counts One and Three, will be denied as moot.

I.

The facts outlined below, and relied upon by the Court when deciding the instant Motions, were alleged by the Plaintiffs in their Second Amended Complaint.

Plaintiff Margaret Heitmann ("Margaret") married Defendant Paul Heitmann ("Paul") in February, 1984. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 10) Following nearly twenty-five years of marriage, and "[a]fter years of what [Margaret] considered mental cruelty, infliction of emotional distress and physical abuse, " Margaret and Paul divorced in June 2009. (Id. ¶ 11) A Property Settlement Agreement ("PSA") provided that Paul pay Margaret $16, 000 per year for five years in alimony, commencing after the sale of their marital home. (Id. ¶ 12) However, the PSA provided that Paul's alimony obligations would end if Margaret either remarried or cohabitated with a third party during the five-year period. (Id. ¶ 13)

Sometime in August 2011, Paul hired Fitzgerald Investigations, LLC ("Fitzgerald Investigations") to conduct an investigation into Margaret's residence. (Id. ¶ 14; Ex. A at 1)[2] To begin the investigation, Fitzgerald Investigations performed a "motor vehicle look up" on August 25, 2011, which revealed information about Margaret's Honda Civic. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 16; Ex. A at 2) On September 19, 2011, Fitzgerald Investigations performed a second "motor vehicle look up" on Plaintiff Robert Dougherty ("Dougherty"), a Cape May resident identified by Paul as Margaret's fiance. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 17; Ex. A at 2)

To actually perform the "motor vehicle look up, " Fitzgerald Investigations contacted Defendant Compinstall. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 19) Compinstall, without investigating why Fitzgerald Investigations wanted such information, provided the make and model year of Margaret and Dougherty's vehicles from New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission ("NJMVC") records, as well as the addresses to which those vehicles were registered. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 34; Ex. A at 2)

With the information obtained from Compinstall, Fitzgerald Investigations was able to locate Margaret's vehicle in the Morristown Memorial Hospital parking lot on October 6, 2011 and began tracking her daily activities. (Ex. B at 2) Between October 6 and November 14, Fitzgerald Investigations accounted for Margaret's daily whereabouts, recording her location and travel each day. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 15; Ex. A, B) This included tracking her to the private parking lot at Morristown Memorial Hospital to the garage on Dougherty's property. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 21-24, 26-28) The results of this investigation culminated in two reports that were apparently provided to Paul on October 17, 2011 and November 15, 2011. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 15; Ex. A at 1; Ex. B at 1)

Margaret obtained the results of the initial investigation into her background as a result of a "Notice of Motion, " which Paul served upon her on October 25, 2011. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 25) This Notice of Motion was an effort to terminate Paul's alimony payments under the PSA, and is part of ongoing litigation in family court. (Id. ¶¶ 47-49) Upon discovering the tracking, Margaret was in "fear of her ex-husband, " whom she sought to keep out of her private affairs. (Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 23, 33) Moreover, Margaret now challenges the conclusions reached in the Fitzgerald Investigations report; namely, she did not (and does not) live with Dougherty. (Id. ¶¶ 31-32)

Margaret and Dougherty filed a Complaint with this Court on November 27, 2012. The Plaintiffs amended the Complaint twice, culminating in the Second Amended Complaint filed on August 28, 2013. In it, the Plaintiffs allege various state-law torts and a violation of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act ("DPPA"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421-2425. Despite arguably obtaining valid service upon Fitzgerald Investigations on October 7, 2013, [3] Fitzgerald Investigations has neither appeared nor filed a responsive pleading or motion. (Vincent P. Sarubbi Cert., at ¶ 6, dkt. no. 29) Paul Heitmann now seeks dismissal of Count One ...


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