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Albert Battiste v. Arbors Management

January 11, 2012

ALBERT BATTISTE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARBORS MANAGEMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This is a civil RICO action. Plaintiff, Albert Battiste, sued Defendants, Arbors Management, EQT Investments, and numerous individuals each of whom were or are owners, officers, and/ or partners, in Arbors Management or EQT Investments or both. See doc. no. 1. Count I of Plaintiff‟s Complaint alleges Defendants engaged in a pattern of racketeering from November of 2006 until August of 2007 which caused Plaintiff to sustain financial losses with respect to his rental properties. Id. Pursuant to the Local Rules of Civil Procedure, LCvR 7.1, Plaintiff also filed a RICO Case Statement providing details concerning his RICO claim. See doc. no. 4.

In response to the Complaint, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and a Brief in Support of same pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) arguing that Plaintiff‟s Complaint failed to allege sufficient facts to support a plausible RICO claim. See doc. nos. 21and 22. Plaintiff timely filed a Brief in Opposition to Defendants‟ Motion to Dismiss. See doc. no. 23. The matter is now ripe for disposition.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, 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,‟ in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the .claim is and the grounds on which it rests.‟" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).

To survive a Motion to Dismiss, a party must allege sufficient facts that, if accepted as true, state "a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly 550 U.S. at 570); see also Kolar v. Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc., 361 Fed.Appx. 354, 359, fn 5 (3d Cir. 2010) ("So long as the complaint sets forth a "plausible" claim to relief, defendants‟ motion to dismiss must fail.").

A claim has facial plausibility when a party pleads facts that allow the Court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant may be liable for the misconduct alleged. Ashcroft, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. However, the Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950 (quoting Twombly 550 U.S. at 555). In deciding a Motion to Dismiss, the Court must determine whether the Complaint or Answer "pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant (or plaintiff) is liable for the misconduct alleged." Pennsyl. Prison Soc. v. Cortes, 622 F.3d 215, 233 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a Complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id.; See also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11.

As recently discussed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, a District Court must take three steps to determine the sufficiency of a complaint:

First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1947 (2009). Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.‟ Id. at 1950. Third, "whe[n] there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.‟ Id. This means that our inquiry is normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged.

Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).

When determining whether a party has presented facts sufficient to show a "plausible claim for relief," the Court must consider the specific nature of the claim presented and the facts pled to substantial that claim. For example, in Fowler, a case predicated upon a violation of the Rehabilitation Act, the Court of Appeals determined that "[t]he complaint pleads how, when, and where [the defendant] allegedly discriminated against Fowler." 578 F.3d at 212. The Court, while noting that the Complaint was "not as rich with detail as some might prefer," the "how, when, and where" provided by the plaintiff was sufficient to establish plausibility. Id. at 211-12.

The facts alleged in the Complaint, but not the legal conclusions, must be taken as true and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of plaintiff. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court may not dismiss a Complaint or Counterclaim merely because it appears unlikely or improbable that plaintiff can prove the facts alleged or will ultimately prevail on the merits. Id. at 556, 563 n.8. Instead, the Court must ask whether the facts alleged raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements. Id. at 556. Generally speaking, a Complaint that provides adequate facts to establish "how, when, and where" will survive a Motion to Dismiss. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 212; See Guirguis v. Movers Specialty Services, Inc., 346 Fed.Appx. 774, 776 (3d Cir. 2009).

In short, the Motion to Dismiss should not be granted if a party alleges facts which could, if established at trial, ...


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