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Mifflinburg Telegraph, Inc. v. Criswell

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 21, 2015

MIFFLINBURG TELEGRAPH, INC., Plaintiff
v.
HEIDI CRISWELL, DARLENE SHARPE, DALE E. CRISSWELL, WILDCAT PUBLICATIONS, LLC, MARGARET WOLFE, RICOH, USA, INC., Defendants

For Mifflinburg Telegraph, Inc., Plaintiff: L. Renee Lieux, Nicole S. Kaylor, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Bybel Rutledge LLP, Lemoyne, PA.

For Heidi Criswell, Darlene Sharp, Dale E. Criswell, Wildcat Publications, LLC, Defendants: James J. Kutz, Jason G. Benion, Post & Schell, PC, Harrisburg, PA.

For Margaret Wolfe, Defendant: Faye R. Cohen, Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, Philadelphia, PA.

For Ricoh, USA, Inc., Defendant: David E. Landau, Duane Morris LLP, Philadelphia, PA.

For Margaret Wolfe, Cross Claimant: Faye R. Cohen, Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, Philadelphia, PA.

For Mifflinburg Telegraph, Inc., Cross Defendant: L. Renee Lieux, Nicole S. Kaylor, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Bybel Rutledge LLP, Lemoyne, PA.

For Margaret Wolfe, Counterclaim Plaintiff: Faye R. Cohen, Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, Philadelphia, PA.

For Mifflinburg Telegraph, Inc., Counterclaim Defendant: L. Renee Lieux, Nicole S. Kaylor, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Bybel Rutledge LLP, Lemoyne, PA.

For Dale E. Criswell, Wildcat Publications, LLC, Heidi Criswell, Darlene Sharp, Cross Claimants: James J. Kutz, Jason G. Benion, Post & Schell, PC, Harrisburg, PA.

For Margaret Wolfe, Cross Defendant: Faye R. Cohen, Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, Philadelphia, PA.

MEMORANDUM

Matthew W. Brann, United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff Mifflinburg Telegraph's Motion to Dismiss Defendant Margaret Wolfe's Counterclaim and to Strike Certain Affirmative Defenses (ECF No. 39). In accordance with the following reasoning, the motion is granted in part, the Defendant's counterclaim is dismissed without prejudice, the affirmative defenses are stricken without prejudice, and the Defendant is granted leave to amend.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Mifflinburg Telegraph, Inc., (" Plaintiff" or " Mifflinburg Telegraph" or " Mifflinburg" ) instituted this action on March 31, 2014. The Complaint alleges claims against numerous Defendants, including claims against Defendant Margaret Wolfe, the subject of the pending Motion, for aiding and abetting conversion and civil conspiracy.[1] See Pl.'s Compl., Mar. 31, 2014, ECF No. 1. Defendants Heidi Criswell, Darlene Sharp, and Dale Criswell are former employees of the Mifflinburg Telegraph, Inc., a printing business located in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania. Wildcat Publications is a company newly formed by Heidi Criswell (" Crisswell" ).[2]

After the prior owner of the Mifflinburg Telegraph, a general-interest community newspaper located in Mifflinburg, Union County, Pennsylvania, passed away, Angelo Mark Papalia, the executor of the estate, engaged in negotiations with Criswell to purchase the Mifflinburg Telegraph from the estate. Negotiations ceased after Criswell and Papalia failed to agree upon a purchase price.

Instead of purchasing the Mifflinburg Telegraph, Criswell, Sharp, and Criswell, all former employees of Mifflinburg, left the business and established a competing business, Wildcat Publications, LLC. Mifflinburg alleges that the Wildcat Defendants attempted to " cripple" the Mifflinburg Telegraph before leaving. Pertinent to the motion under consideration, Mifflinburg alleges that Defendant Wolfe arranged to have a Mifflinburg Telegraph printer transferred to Wildcat Publications for use in the new business. Mifflinburg further alleges that Wolfe arranged to have the cost of the printer included in the Mifflinburg Telegraph lease for another printer, such that Mifflinburg was paying for the printer that Criswell's competing business was using without being aware of nature of its payments.

On April 1, 2014, following the Complaint filed on March 31, 2014, Mifflinburg filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction against the Wildcat Defendants. (ECF No. 3). On April 4, 2014, in response to the Wildcat Defendant's motion, the Court denied the request for a temporary restraining order on procedural grounds, continued the pending preliminary injunction hearing, and granted Mifflinburg's request for expedited discovery. Mifflinburg then filed a renewed request for a temporary restraining order, ...


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