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Singleton v. Medearis

October 28, 2009

KEITH SINGLETON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LYNDALL MEDEARIS, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, J.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). (Doc. Nos. 14 and 15.) Plaintiff's responses to both Defendants are also before the Court. (Doc. Nos. 18 and 19.) For the reasons set forth in the following memorandum, we will grant in part and deny in part.

Background

Plaintiff Keith Singleton ("Plaintiff") filed his Complaint against Defendants Lyndall C. Medearis ("Medearis") and AXA Advisors, LLC ("AXA") on April 2, 2009, in this Court. Plaintiff resides in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania. Medearis resides in Bellaire, Texas. AXA is a New York Corporation with its principal place of business in New York, New York.

On April 6, 2000, Plaintiff opened a brokerage account with Medearis, who was operating as a financial planner and investment advisor on behalf of AXA. From April 6, 2000 until approximately October 2008, Plaintiff maintained a brokerage account with AXA. During that time period, Plaintiff relied on the advice of Medearis and AXA and transferred money from the brokerage account to life insurance products and mutual funds, all maintained and operated by AXA or its affiliates.

Between March 2007 and June 2008, Medearis advised Plaintiff that he could invest Plaintiff's money in other, alternative investment products. Medearis told Plaintiff that these products could potentially earn Plaintiff a higher return on his investment compared to the expected return from the mutual funds and life insurance products in which Plaintiff was previously investing his money.

Medearis convinced Plaintiff to give the money for these alternative investment products directly to Medearis in cash and checks. Medearis advised Plaintiff that he would invest the money into the new investment products and that Plaintiff would receive at least fifteen to twenty percent in return on his investment. During this time period, Plaintiff gave Medearis approximately $500,000 to invest in these alternative instruments.

Plaintiff claims to have given the money to Medearis in reliance on Medearis's promises that he would invest the money and that the return on the investment would yield fifteen to twenty percent. However, Plaintiff later learned that instead of investing the money, the cash and checks were diverted into Medearis's personal accounts for his own use. In February 2009, AXA terminated its affiliation with Medearis upon receiving information that Medearis stole money from AXA.

Plaintiff seeks to recover damages in an amount not less than $500,000. Plaintiff's Complaint alleges six counts: (I) fraudulent concealment (against Medearis), (II) conversion (against Medearis), (III) breach of fiduciary duty (against both Defendants), (IV) unjust enrichment (against Medearis), (V) negligence (against AXA), and (VI) breach of contract (against both Defendants). Medearis filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, III, IV, and VI. Medearis has also requested this Court to strike and/or dismiss Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief in the counts against Medearis. Medearis has further requested that this Court strike Plaintiff's demand for legal fees in the counts against Medearis. AXA filed a Motion to Dismiss Counts III, V, and VI. AXA has further requested that this Court strike Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief in Counts III and VI. The Motions from both Defendants are under consideration below.

Standards of Review

I. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

In response to a pleading, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant may assert by motion that the plaintiff's complaint "[fails] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In analyzing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, we "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 v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . .'" Id. at 232 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). In other words, the plaintiff must provide enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements of a particular cause of action. Id. at 234. In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court may consider documents integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint. In re Rockefeller Sec. Lit., 184 F.3d 280, 287 (3d Cir. 1999).

II. 12(f) Motion to Strike

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that "[u]pon motion made by a party . . . the court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). A court should not grant a motion to strike an allegation unless the allegation is clearly insufficient. Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 789 F.2d 181 (3d Cir. 1986).

Discussion

I. 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss

A. Count I - Fraudulent Concealment ...


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