United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Barry Fischer United States District Judge.
diversity action arises out of an alleged illegal wiretap.
(Docket No. 1-2). Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants
for breach of contract, tortious interference with contract
and business relationships, defamation, unfair and deceptive
trade practices, intrusion upon seclusion, publicity to
private life, and false light. (Id.). Presently
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for
Lack of Jurisdiction or to Transfer the Case, along with a
supporting brief. (Docket Nos. 3, 4). Plaintiff filed a brief
in opposition to Defendant's motion, to which Defendants
replied. (Docket Nos. 7, 12, 13). Along with their briefing,
Defendants have also presented affidavits prepared by
Defendant Jeremy Deeble and Scott Bland. (Docket Nos. 4-1,
4-2). Upon consideration of the parties' arguments, and
for the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
for Lack of Jurisdiction is granted, without prejudice to
Plaintiff refiling this action in the appropriate
is a native of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and is an
independent business owner with the American Communications
Network (“ACN”). (Docket No. 1-2 at ¶¶
1, 4-5). Defendant Deeble is a resident of Indiana,
Defendant Tranont, Inc.'s principal place of business is
in Utah. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3). Defendant Deeble
was formerly a representative in the downline of ACN but
became an agent of Defendant Tranont, Inc., a competitor of
ACN. (Id. at ¶¶ 17, 22). Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants conspired and designed a plan to bait him
into embarrassing himself, to publish the damaging results,
and to recruit individuals from ACN to join Defendant
Tranont, Inc. (Id. at ¶¶ 24, 26).
Specifically, Plaintiff avers that Defendants
“inspired” to illegally intercept and record an
embarrassing telephone conversation, in which Plaintiff
appears angry, profane, and loud, and then distributed the
conversation through text messages, e-mails, and social media
for the purpose of damaging Plaintiff's business
relationships. (Id. at ¶¶ 28, 30-34,
39-40). Plaintiff states that his counsel has requested
confirmation that the publication has ceased but has not
received a response from Defendants. (Id. at
¶¶ 37-38). Plaintiff alleges that his reputation
among his downline representatives and business associates
has been damaged, and will continue to be damaged by
Defendants' further publication of the recorded telephone
call. (Id. at ¶¶ 41-43).
asserts claims against Defendants for breach of contract,
tortious interference with contract and business
relationships, defamation, unfair and deceptive trade
practices, intrusion upon seclusion, publicity to private
life, and false light. (Id. at ¶¶ 44-88).
In support of his breach of contract claim, Plaintiff
contends that Defendant Deeble breached the parties' ACN
contract, which included a covenant not to compete.
(Id. at ¶¶ 44-48). Regarding his claim for
tortious interference with contract and business
relationships, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants tortiously
interfered with his business associates and customers by
publishing the illegally recorded telephone call and poaching
his current and potential future independent business owners
in his ACN downline. (Id. at ¶¶ 49-54).
Plaintiff relies upon the same core facts to support his
claims for defamation, unfair and deceptive trade practices,
intrusion upon seclusion, publicity to private life, and
false light. (Id. at ¶¶ 55-87). He seeks
injunctive and compensatory relief. (Id. at
Plaintiff's Emergency Petition for Injunctive Relief
filed an Emergency Petition for Injunctive Relief in the
Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. (Docket No. 1-3 at
2-16). In his petition, Plaintiff restated the facts in his
Complaint that detailed his relationship with Defendants and
the telephone call. (Id. at ¶¶ 1-44). In
support of his request for immediate injunctive relief,
Plaintiff alleged that Defendants had been luring and
poaching his independent business owners, his customers, and
his business associates. (Id. at ¶ 45).
Plaintiff asserted that Defendants would not be prejudiced by
ceasing further publication of the call and that he would
suffer permanent, substantial, and irreparable harm without
an injunction. (Id. at ¶¶ 47-48).
Plaintiff requested a temporary restraining order prohibiting
any further publication of the call, a hearing for a
permanent injunction, and judgment for Plaintiff in excess of
$200, 000 in damages. (Id.).
December 22, 2016, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny
County issued a special injunction order against Defendants
and scheduled a hearing on the construction of the special
injunction. (Id. at 2, 43). After Defendants failed
to appear at the hearing held on December 28, 2016, the court
made its December 22, 2016 order permanent. (Id. at
1-2, 45). The court further ordered Defendants to: (1)
provide to Plaintiff's counsel any and all originals and
copies of the recording, along with reasonable confirmation
of the destruction of all copies; (2) cease publication and
permanently terminate all publication of the recording; and
(3) retract any known recipients and provide a list of the
places in which the recording had been published, the persons
to whom the recording had been published, and the manner of
Defendants' Supporting Evidence
to their briefing in support of their motion, Defendants have
presented affidavits prepared by Scott Bland and Defendant
Deeble. In his affidavit, Bland states that he is the
President of iMoney Tools, LLC d/b/a Tranont, which is a
limited liability company with a primary address located in
Utah. (Docket No. 4-1 at ¶ 1). Bland avers that the
company's members are National Marketing & Learning,
LLC, a Missouri limited liability company, and H20 Mark
Marketing, LLC, a Utah limited liability company.
(Id. at ¶ 2). Bland states that iMoney Tools,
LLC's business is in the western portion of the United
States and has only limited interactions with the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 4). The
company is not incorporated in Pennsylvania; is not
registered to do business in Pennsylvania; does not do
business under any other name in Pennsylvania; and does not
have any property, employees, representatives, or agents in
Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶¶ 5-6). Bland avers
that neither he nor the company's principal members have
ever spoken to Plaintiff and that the company has never
contracted with or transacted any business with Plaintiff.
(Id. at ¶¶ 7-8).
Deeble states in his affidavit that he is a resident of Idaho
who has never been a citizen or resident of Pennsylvania; has
not registered to contract or transact business with the
Pennsylvania Secretary of State; does not own any real
property in Pennsylvania; and does not have any
representatives, employees, or agents in Pennsylvania.
(Docket No. 4-2 at ¶¶ 1-4). Defendant Deeble avers
that although he and Plaintiff were formerly associated with
ACN, he has never contracted to do business with Plaintiff,
either individually or through any business entity.
(Id. at ¶¶ 5-6, 8). With respect to the
recorded telephone call, Defendant Deeble states that he
received a threatening voicemail from Plaintiff on December
8, 2016, while he was located in New Jersey. (Id. at
¶¶ 9-10). Defendant Deeble states that he returned
Plaintiff's call but recorded the conversation because he
was concerned by the tone of Plaintiff's voicemail.
(Id. at ¶ 11). Defendant Deeble avers that he
maintains possession of the audio recording and that his
primary purpose for recording the call was to protect himself
and his family against Plaintiff's threats. (Id.
at ¶¶ 12, 19). He summarizes the call and attaches
a transcription of same to his affidavit. (Id. at
¶¶ 11, 13-17; Docket No. 4-3). Defendant Deeble
states that Plaintiff informed him that he was in Ohio, not
Pennsylvania, and that the telephone call did not include
anyone located in Pennsylvania. (Docket No. 4-2 at
¶¶ 15, 18).
initiated this case by filing his Complaint in the Court of
Common Pleas of Allegheny County on December 22, 2016.
(Docket No. 1-2). Defendants responded by removing the case
to this Court on January 20, 2017. (Docket No. 1). Defendants
filed the pending Motion to Dismiss, along with its Brief in
Support and supporting evidence on January 24, 2017. (Docket
Nos. 3, 4). Plaintiff filed his response in opposition, to