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Pinnacle Insurance Solutions, LLC v. Kolbe

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 27, 2014

PINNACLE INSURANCE SOLUTIONS, LLC d/b/a PINNACLE RISK SOLUTIONS, also d/b/a PINNACLE COMPANIES, Plaintiff,
v.
HENRY N. KOLBE, WILLIAM GOLDSTEIN, and INTEGRO USA INC., Defendants.

OPINION

SUSAN D. WIGENTON, District Judge.

Before the Court is Henry N. Kolbe ("Kolbe"), William Goldstein ("Goldstein"), and Integro USA Inc.'s ("Integro") (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or Request for Abstention in the alternative.[1] This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). This Court, having considered the parties' submissions, decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion for Abstention is GRANTED.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff is an insurance brokerage firm based in New Jersey and is owned by Kolbe's brother-in-law, Michael Evan Caradimitropoulo. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 9, 12.) Kolbe is a former employee of Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 2.) Integro is a Delaware corporation registered to do business in New Jersey. (Id. ¶ 3.) Goldstein is the Chief Financial Officer of Integro. (Id. ¶ 4.)

In May 2004, Kolbe was hired by Plaintiff to work as an insurance broker and was also given the position of in-house counsel. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) While working for Plaintiff, Kolbe, inter alia, engaged in several communications with Goldstein regarding work-related matters, allegedly shared sensitive information with Goldstein, directed potential clients away from Plaintiff, and impugned Plaintiff's reputation. (Id. ¶¶ 110-18.) On November 13, 2012, Kolbe submitted his letter of resignation to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 119.)

On November 14, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division alleging breach of contract and breach of employee duty of loyalty. Additionally, Plaintiff filed an Order to Show Cause for Temporary Restraints enjoining Kolbe from using Pinnacle's client information. The parties were directed to mediate the dispute; however, mediation attempts were unsuccessful. On June 20, 2013, an Order was entered directing Plaintiff to "submit a proposed consent order adding a new defendant on or before July 5, 2013." (Certification of Matthew E. Beck ("Beck. Cert.") ¶ 9, Ex. E.) Plaintiff failed to submit the proposed consent order.

On September 6, 2013, Plaintiff's motion to transfer the case to the Law Division was denied noting that "[t]he case management order of June 20, 2013 directed that an amended complaint (adding a new defendant) be submitted by consent by July 5, 2013. That has not been done." (Beck Cert. ¶ 12, Ex. G.)

On October 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court alleging eleven Counts: (1) misappropriation of trade secrets; (2) violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA"); (3) tortious interference with existing contracts; (4) tortious interference with prospective economic advantage; and (5-7) federal civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") claims; (8-10) New Jersey civil RICO claims; and (11) punitive damages. (See Compl. ¶¶ 129-228.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

The adequacy of pleadings is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), which requires that a complaint allege "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." This Rule "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted); see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that Rule 8 "requires a showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief'" (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555 n.3)).

In considering a Motion to Dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), the Court 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 , 515 F.3d at 231 (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd. , 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555). If the "wellpleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, " the complaint should be dismissed for failing to show "that the pleader is entitled to relief'" as required by Rule 8(a)(2). Id . at 679 (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2)).

According to the Supreme Court in Twombly, "[w]hile 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." 550 U.S. at 555 (third alteration in original) (internal citations omitted) (quoting Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). The Third Circuit summarized the Twombly pleading standard as follows: "stating... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element." Phillips , 515 F.3d at 234 (alterations in original) (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556).

In Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, the Third Circuit directed district courts to conduct a twopart analysis. 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). First, the court must separate the factual elements from the legal conclusions. Id . The court "must accept all of the complaint's wellpleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Id . at 210-11 (citing Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678). Second, the court must determine if "the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.'" Id . at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 679). "In other words, a complaint must do more ...


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