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Meridian Technologies Inc. v. Kerr

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

March 23, 2017

MERIDIAN TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
BRIANNA KERR and YOH SERVICES, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION

          David C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge.

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on “Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint” (Document No. 5). This motion has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b), and is now ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the arguments, the record, and the applicable authority, the undersigned will direct Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint, and thus, respectfully recommend that the motion to dismiss be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Meridian Technologies, Inc. (“Plaintiff” or “Meridian”) initiated this action with the filing of a “Verified Complaint” (Document No. 1-1, pp.9-19) (the “Complaint”) in the Superior Court Division of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Case No. 16-CVS-19038, on or about October 17, 2016. The Complaint asserts claims for (1) breach of contract, (2) tortious interference with contract, and (3) unfair and deceptive trade practices, against Brianna Kerr (“Kerr”) and Yoh Services, LLC (“Yoh”) (together, “Defendants”). (Document No. 1-1, pp.16-18). The crux of Plaintiff's claims are that Kerr has violated the terms of the “Meridian Technologies Recruiter Employment and Ancillary Covenants Agreement” (the “Agreement”) she executed on August 12, 2013, as “an express requirement and in consideration of her employment with Meridian.” (Document No. 1-1, p. 12) (citing Document No. 1-1, pp.21-27). Moreover, Plaintiff contends that Yoh intentionally induced Kerr to breach the Agreement, beginning in or about September 2016, by hiring and employing her as a technical recruiter. (Document No. 1-1, pp.15-17).

         Defendants' “Notice Of Removal” (Document No. 1) was filed with this Court on November 21, 2016, asserting diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). (Document No. 1, p.2). Two (2) days after removing the lawsuit to this Court, on November 23, 2016, Defendants filed the pending motion to dismiss alleging that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (Document No. 5). Defendants contend that the Complaint “fails to set forth ‘enough facts to state a claim [for breach of contract] that is plausible on its face.'” (Document No. 5-1, p.5) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         “Plaintiff's Response To Defendants' Motion To Dismiss” (Document No. 6) was filed on December 9 2016; and “Defendant's Reply Brief In Support…” (Document No. 7) was filed on December 16, 2016. As such, the pending motion is now ripe for review and a recommendation to the Honorable Robert J. Conrad, Jr.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the “legal sufficiency of the complaint” but “does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992); Eastern Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Assoc. Ltd. Partnership, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss will survive if it contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also, Robinson v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 551 F.3d 218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.

         The Supreme Court has also opined that

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.” Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” In addition, when ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint.

Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56).

         “Although for the purposes of this motion to dismiss we must take all the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). The court “should view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkar, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendants contend that all of Plaintiff's claims in this lawsuit are based on Kerr's alleged violation of a non-compete provision of the Agreement, Section 4.4. (Document No. 5-1, p.2) (citing Document No. 1-1, p.23). Defendants further contend that “the only allegation Plaintiff made that Kerr violated the Agreement is contained in the conclusory statement, ‘Kerr's duties as a technical recruiter for Yoh constitute ‘Conflicting Services' as ...


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