United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
OPINION DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE
TO STATE A CLAIM, ECF NO. 10-GRANTED
F. LEESON, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Exeter Township has brought this action against its former IT
administrator, Defendant Eric Gardecki. In its amended
complaint, the Township asserts three claims: violation of
the federal Stored Communications Act, violation of the
Pennsylvania Stored Communications Act, and breach of
fiduciary duty. Gardecki moves to dismiss the amended
complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss is
Exeter Township filed its original complaint in April 2018
asserting claims for violations of the federal Stored
Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2712,
and the Pennsylvania Stored Communications Act, 18 Pa. Cons.
Stat. §§ 5741-5749, trespass to chattels,
conversion, and breach of fiduciary duty. Defendant Eric
Gardecki moved to dismiss in June 2018 and the Court granted
Gardecki's motion to dismiss on December 14, 2018, but
granted the Township leave to amend three counts.
Township filed its amended complaint on January 4, 2019. It
includes three counts: (1) a claim for a violation of the
Federal Stored Communications Act (Count I); (2) a claim for
a violation of the Pennsylvania Stored Communications Act
(Count II); and (3) a claim for a breach of fiduciary duty
(Count III). Gardecki moves to dismiss the amended complaint
in its entirety under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Court discussed the factual background of this case
previously. See Exeter Twp. v. Gardecki, No.
5:18-cv-01723, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212275 (E.D. Pa. Dec.
14, 2018). In its amended complaint the Township
added several additional allegations clarifying the facts of
the case. The Court will detail only the relevant portions of
the additional factual pleadings.
Township employed Gardecki in the position of Township
Information Technology (IT) Administrator. In his position as
IT Administrator, Gardecki's duties included providing
general computer support services to Township employees. As a
Township employee, he was only authorized to act in the
Township's best interest and was not authorized to take
actions that would jeopardize the safety, security, or both,
of the Township and its property. Gardecki was not authorized
to make or retain copies of Township's electronic data
for his own personal purposes and without the express consent
of the Township. He was not authorized to access the
Township's cloud-based server for the purpose of creating
a copy of the server.
April 12, 2016, however, Gardecki accessed the server and
created a copy of it onto a hard drive. The server contained
Township's highly sensitive and confidential information
as well as Township's electronic data such as email
messages. After his termination, Gardecki retained the copy
of the server and stole two additional hard drives that
contained Township's confidential information. He stored
them at his home in an unsecured location for over twenty
months. Gardecki allegedly did so for his own personal
benefit and to assist the Township's former zoning
officer who had informed Gardecki about her intent to act as
a whistleblower against the Township.
result of Gardecki's unauthorized actions, the Township
incurred more than $10, 000 in damages because it was forced
to retain a forensic computer expert to determine if Gardecki
had deleted, destroyed, or altered the Township's
electronic data stored on the server.
Gardecki moves to dismiss a second time.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss a
complaint for its “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
Rules generally demand “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 upon which it rests.”
Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786
(3d Cir. 2016) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal quotations omitted)).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In rendering a decision
on a motion to dismiss, this Court must “accept all
factual allegations as true [and] construe the complaint in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Phillips, 515 F.3d at 233 (quoting Pinker v.
Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir.
2002) (internal quotations omitted)). Only if “the
‘[f]actual allegations . . . raise a right to relief
above the speculative level'” has the plaintiff
stated a plausible claim. Id. at 234 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. However, “the tenet
that a court must accept as true all of the allegations
contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Id. (explaining that determining
“whether a complaint states a plausible claim for
relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the