United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on several Motions to Dismiss
Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), for failure to
state a claim for which relief may be granted under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and for judgment on the pleadings
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). (Docs. Nos. 39, 45, 48, 51, 57,
& 61). Upon review by the Court, for the reasons below,
the Motions to Dismiss the Complaint (Docs. Nos. 21, 23, 26,
& 30) are DENIED AS MOOT, and the Motions to Dismiss the
Amended Complaint (Docs. Nos. 39, 45, 48, 51, 57, & 61)
are GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
to the Amended Complaint,  Plaintiffs and Defendants are all
residents of North Carolina and, in the case of parties that
are corporate or government entities, have their principal
places of business in North Carolina. (Doc. No. 32, pp. 2-3).
Defendants Gaston County, Gaston County Board of Education
(“GCBOE”), and Booker are collectively referred
to as “Purchasing Defendants.” Defendants
Carstarphen Family Foundation and Stowe Foundation, Inc., are
collectively referred to as “Selling Defendants.”
Defendants Roberts and Philbeck are collectively referred to
as “Publishing Defendants.” (Doc. No. 32, pp.
allege they entered into a series of contracts and agreements
with Selling Defendants and Purchasing Defendants concerning
a parcel of land in Gaston County, North Carolina. (Doc. No.
32). Plaintiffs further allege that Selling Defendants and
Purchasing Defendants conspired to dishonor Plaintiffs'
contracts with Defendants, causing damage to Plaintiffs'
business. (Doc. No. 32, pp. 4-8). Plaintiffs also allege
Publishing Defendants publicized or circulated emails
containing false or defamatory statements about Plaintiffs.
(Doc. No. 32, pp. 5-6).
Amended Complaint asserts ten separate Counts: (1) fraud
against Purchasing Defendants; (2) breach of implied covenant
of good faith and fair dealing against Selling Defendants;
(3) violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act (15 U.S.C. §
1) against Purchasing and Selling Defendants; (4) unjust
enrichment against Selling Defendants; (5) relief in quantum
meruit against Selling Defendants; (6) libel against
Publishing Defendants; (7) punitive damages for willful and
wanton conduct against all Defendants; (8) violations of
North Carolina's unfair and deceptive trade practices
statutes ( N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1 et seq.)
against all Defendants; (9) tortious interference with
contract right against Defendant Gaston County; and (10)
tortious interference with prospective economic advantage
against Defendants Gaston County and GCBOE. (Doc. No. 32, pp.
moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' original Complaint. (Docs.
Nos. 21, 23, 26, & 30). Plaintiff filed an Amended
Complaint superseding the original Complaint, thereby
rendering the above-referenced Motions to Dismiss moot.
Defendants again filed Motions to Dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim entitled to
relief pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), and
12(c). (Docs. Nos. 39, 45, 48, 51, 57, & 61).
court considers a motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), the burden
of proof is on the plaintiff. Adams v. Bain, 697
F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982). The motion shall be granted
“if the material jurisdictional facts are not in
dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a
matter of law.” Richmond, Fredericksburg &
Potomac R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th
Cir. 1991). If the plaintiff merely fails to properly plead
the elements of a federal claim, it is not a truly threshold
jurisdictional question, and it is analyzed as a Rule
12(b)(6) question. Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546
U.S. 500, 514-15 (2006) (explaining that
“jurisdictional” elements of federal claims must
be explicitly identified as such by statute). In this event,
the district court retains the discretion to extend
supplemental jurisdiction over pendent state-law claims.
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency
of a 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);
E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd.
P'ship, 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. Am. 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
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
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56) (internal
motion for judgment on the pleadings applies much the same
standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th
Cir. 1999). The district court considers both the complaint
and the answer and accepts all allegations as true for the
purpose of the motion. Id. at 244. The Court will
not grant the motion if the complaint and the answer dispute
an issue of material fact.
the filing of an amended complaint, the original complaint is
superseded, and motions to dismiss the original complaint are
rendered moot. Young v. City of ...