United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MATTHEW A. GUERS, Plaintiff,
JONES LANG LASALLE AMERICAS, INC., Defendant.
JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be granted. As such, Plaintiff's claims will be dismissed without prejudice.
Plaintiff Matthew A. Guers ("Plaintiff") was employed by Defendant Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. ("Defendant") as a real estate agent/broker. (Compl. ¶ 2.) As an employee of Defendant, Plaintiff was paid by commission. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff claims to have met or exceeded goals for payment of commissions. (Compl. ¶ 3.) In February 2013, Defendant fired Plaintiff, claiming that Plaintiff breached Defendant's ethical code by obtaining information in possession of another agent/broker. (Compl. ¶ 7.) As a result, Plaintiff was terminated and accordingly denied the commissions he claims to have earned throughout the course of his employment. (Compl. ¶ 10.) The total value of the commissions Plaintiff claims he is entitled to is $65, 546.45. (Compl. ¶ 12.)
Plaintiff claims that the allegation that Plaintiff breached Defendant's ethical code is false. He further claims that the allegation was made by Defendant either knowingly and/or negligently with the intent to deprive Plaintiff of his commissions and to libel/slander Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶¶ 8, 9.) Plaintiff thus seeks a favorable judgment and requests damages in the amount of $65, 546.45; attorneys' fees, interest, and suit costs; punitive, consequential, treble, special and/or exemplary damages; and any other relief deemed appropriate by this Court. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Accordingly, Plaintiff brings claims for breach of contract, libel and/or slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud/conversion, violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, improper termination, and under the theory of quantum meruit. The Court will address each of these claims in turn.
A complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), ordinarily only the allegations in the complaint, matters of public record, orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint, are taken into consideration. See Chester County Intermediate Unit v. Pa. Blue Shield , 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead evidence. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp. , 561 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). The question before the Court is not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Watson v. Abington Twp. , 478 F.3d 144, 150 (2007). Instead, the Court simply asks whether the plaintiff has articulated "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
"A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556). "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." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 680.
The Court need not accept "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, '" Baraka v. McGreevey , 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007) (citation omitted), however, and "[l]egal conclusions made in the guise of factual allegations... are given no presumption of truthfulness." Wyeth v. Ranbaxy Labs., Ltd. , 448 F.Supp.2d 607, 609 (D.N.J. 2006) (citing Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)); see also Kanter v. Barella , 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher , 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005) ("[A] court need not credit either bald assertions' or legal conclusions' in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss.")). Accord Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679 (finding that pleadings that are no more than conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth).
Further, although "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements will not do." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 555 (internal citations omitted). See also Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.").
Thus, a motion to dismiss should be granted unless the plaintiff's factual allegations are "enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556 (internal citations omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
Further, Rule 9(b) provides that "[i]n alleging fraud or mistake, a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake. Malice, intent, knowledge, and other conditions of a person's mind may be alleged generally." Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). Pursuant to Rule 9(b), a plaintiff must plead "with particularity the circumstances of the alleged fraud in order to place the defendants on notice of the precise misconduct with which they are charged, and to safeguard defendants against spurious charges of immoral and fraudulent behavior.'" Lum v. Bank of Am. , 361 F.3d 217, 223-24 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Seville Indus. Mach. Corp. v. Southmost Mach. Corp. , 742 F.2d 786, 791 (3d Cir. 1984)).
There are two ways to satisfy the particularity requirement. See Lum , 361 F.3d at 224. First, a plaintiff may plead the "date, place or time" of the fraudulent act. Id . (quoting Seville , 742 F.2d at 791) (internal quotations omitted). Second, a plaintiff may use "alternative means [to] inject[ ] some measure of substantiation into their allegations of fraud." Id . (internal quotations omitted). Still, the plaintiff must plead enough to substantiate the allegations of fraud being made and may not rely on "conclusory statements." NN&R, Inc. v. One Beacon Ins. Group , 362 F.Supp.2d 514, 518 (D.N.J. 2005) (quoting Mordini v. Viking Freight, Inc. , 92 F.Supp.2d 378, 385 (D.N.J. 1999)). At a minimum, a plaintiff "must allege who made a misrepresentation to whom and the general content of the misrepresentation." ...