The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGLYNN
Before the court is the Defendant Carl A. Solano's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
This case arises out of a dispute over the existence of an oral contract between plaintiff, Bruce Buschel ("Buschel"), and defendant, Elliott Kaplan ("Kaplan"), the Editor of the Philadelphia Magazine ("Philadelphia "). Buschel filed his four count complaint on April 18, 1996 against three defendants: (1) MetroCorp, the publisher of Philadelphia ; (2) Kaplan; and, (3) Carl A. Solano ("Solano"), a partner in Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, who acted on behalf of the Schnader firm and provided legal counsel to Philadelphia.
Buschel seeks compensatory and punitive damages against all defendants for defamation (Count I), invasion of privacy (Count II), tortious interference with an existing contract (Count III), and civil conspiracy (Count IV).
Sometime in December of 1994, Buschel, a freelance journalist, met with Kaplan to discuss Philadelphia's interest in publishing an article on Harry Jay Katz, a well-known Philadelphian and head of the city's Film and Video Commission. Compl. at P 11. Although in the past Buschel had been interested in writing a story on Katz, Buschel declined Kaplan's offer. Id. In March of 1995, after a highly publicized incident drew media attention to Katz, Kaplan offered again to purchase an article by Buschel on Katz. Id. at P 12. Although Kaplan disagrees, Buschel contends that, at that time, he did not reach any agreement with Kaplan as to the purchase and exclusive publication rights of the article. Id. at P 14. Nevertheless, Buschel subsequently met with a Philadelphia staff member to discuss her involvement with Katz. Id. at P 13.
Shortly thereafter, Buschel advised Kaplan that he was negotiating with Esquire magazine for the sale of publication rights to the Katz article. Id. at PP 16-17. On April 27, 1995, Kaplan sent Buschel a written contract specifying the details of what Kaplan claimed was the parties' March oral agreement. Id. at P 18. The contract detailed the amount of payment and the deadline for submission of the article. However, because he had entered into an agreement with Esquire, Buschel rejected Kaplan's contract. Id. at PP 18-19. On May 3, 1995, Buschel and Esquire signed a written contract for the exclusive publication rights to the article. Id. at P 17.
On May 15, 1995, Solano, on behalf of Philadelphia, wrote a letter to both Buschel and the two editors of Esquire, William Tonelli (Articles Editor) and Edward Kosner (Editor-in-Chief), that notified each recipient of Philadelphia's alleged oral contract with Buschel. Id. at P 20; Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 2-3. In each letter, Solano made clear that Philadelphia would pursue its legal rights against both Buschel and the editors of Esquire arising from Buschel's contractual arrangement with Philadelphia.
Solano enclosed a copy of each letter to both parties.
Subsequent to Esquire's receipt of the letter from Solano, Esquire terminated its contract with Buschel to pay for and publish the article on Katz. Compl. at P 23. Based on the foregoing facts, Buschel claims that Solano defamed his character, invaded his privacy, and tortiously interfered with his contract with Esquire. Solano now seeks a dismissal of Buschel's four count complaint for failure to state a claim upon which the court can grant relief.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows the court to dismiss a complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 12(b)(6) must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1357 (2d ed. 1990). When the pleading fails to meet this liberal standard, it is subject to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). The court's inquiry is limited to the content of the complaint.
For purposes of Rule 12(b)(6), the district court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U.S. 91, 109, 60 L. Ed. 2d 66, 99 S. Ct. 1601 (1979) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501, 45 L. Ed. 2d 343, 95 S. Ct. 2197 (1975)); United States v. Witco Corp., 853 F. Supp. 139, 141 (E.D. Pa. 1994) (citing Schrob v. Catterson, 948 F.2d 1402, 1405 (3d Cir. 1991)). Accordingly, this Court must consider "whether relief could be granted . . . 'under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations.'" Gasoline Sales, Inc. v. Aero Oil Co., 39 F.3d 70, 71 (3d Cir. 1994) (quoting National Org. for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 114 S. Ct. 798, 799, 127 L. Ed. 2d 99 (1994)). If the court cannot identify any cause of action, dismissal is ordinarily proper.
Thus, the ultimate question is not whether Buschel will prevail, but whether Buschel could prove any set of facts in support of his claim ...