The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge
On March 9, 2011, Plaintiffs Frontier Van Lines Moving and Storage, Inc. ("Frontier") and Sharon Biton ("Biton") filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania against Valley Solutions, Inc. ("Valley Solutions") and Matt Schmidt ("Schmidt") alleging defamation, and this case was properly removed to this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Valley Solutions, t/d/b/a, MoverReviews.com, hosts and maintains a website wherein reviews are posted by persons who seek the services of moving companies, including Frontier. Frontier alleges that Defendant Schmidt posted two defamatory statements about Frontier, and that Valley Solutions also published, authored, created, or acted in concert with Schmidt in authoring, creating, and posting and in failing to remove the alleged defamatory statements, thus resulting in harm to its business and the personal reputation of the business owners. Doc. No. 1-1. Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages.
On April 28, 2011, Valley Solutions filed a Motion to Dismiss the claims against it under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. No. 4. Valley Solutions asserts that Plaintiffs‟ claims against it are barred by Title V of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, specifically that part codified at 47 U.S.C. § 230. For the reasons discussed below, Valley Solutions‟ Motion to Dismiss will be denied without prejudice.*fn1
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), civil complaints must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 570 (2007)).*fn2 To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a claim for relief now ""requires more than labels and conclusions‟" or ""a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.‟" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While Rule 8 was "a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era," it does not "unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950.
In light of the Supreme Court‟s decision in Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has advised district courts to review Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim as follows:
[D]istrict courts should conduct a two-part analysis. First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts. As the Supreme Court instructed in Iqbal, "[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 "show[n]‟ -- "that the pleader is entitled to relief.‟" This "plausibility" determination will be "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949).
In conducting this analysis, the Court will accept all of the plaintiff‟s factual allegations as true and construe all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Umland v. Planco Fin. Servs., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006)). However, a court will not accept bald assertions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 215 (3d Cir. 2002); Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 n.8 (3d Cir. 1997). A court is not required to consider legal conclusions; rather, it should determine whether the plaintiff should be permitted to offer evidence in support of the allegations. See Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 482 (3d Cir. 2000). To satisfy the requirement of Federal Rule 8(a)(2) for a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," a plaintiff must aver sufficient factual allegations which "nudge" its claims "across the line from conceivable to plausible." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1951.
This standard does not impose a heightened burden on the claimant above that already required by Rule 8, however, but instead calls for fair notice of the factual basis of a claim and enough specificity to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the ...