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Wiley v. McMahon

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 4, 2019

DANA W. WILEY, Plaintiff,
VINCE MCMAHON, World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman CEO, AND JOHN DUE, D-Generation X and NWO Wrestling employee's, Defendants.



         I. Recommendation

         It is respectfully recommended that the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., and Vince McMahon, (ECF No. 12), be granted and that Plaintiffs Amended Complaint be dismissed with prejudice as to all Defendants.

         II. Report

         A. Procedural History and Factual Background

         Pro se Plaintiff Dana Wiley ("Plaintiff) commenced this action against World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., ("WWE"), WWE's CEO Vince McMahon, (collectively referred to as the "WWE Defendants"), and "John Due D-Generation X [and] NWO Wrestling Employee's [sic]." (ECF No. 3). After his original Complaint was dismissed sua sponte without prejudice by Chief Magistrate Judge Eddy, (ECF No. 6), he filed an Amended Complaint on January 25, 2019.[1] (ECF No. 7).

         In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on August 21, 1995, he entered into a $75 million contract with Defendants for his "brand trademark name D-Generation X NWO t-shirt's [sic] and other merchandise[.]". See Paragraph 2 of Introduction to Amended Complaint. (ECF 7, at 1). While the Amended Complaint is unclear, it appears that Plaintiff alleges that merchandise bearing the names "D-Generation X" and "NWO" was promoted by Defendants during an ill-defined period of time ending on September 2, 2019.[2] (Id. ¶¶ 2, 5). Plaintiff claims that he sent a cease and desist letter to Defendants demanding that they release a copy of the contract and pay him $75 million but they failed to do so. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 4).

         Plaintiffs claims include breach of a "copyright contract" by promoting his products but failing to pay him for sums purportedly due under the contract. While it is far from clear, Plaintiff also appears to assert a copyright infringement claim and a trademark infringement claim under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1114 or §1125.

         The WWE Defendants moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint on April 23, 2019. (ECF No. 12). In their Brief in Support of the Motion to Dismiss, the WWE Defendants note that as of August of 1995, Plaintiff was incarcerated, having been previously sentenced on May 1, 1995, for a five to twenty-year term for armed robbery. (ECF No. 13, at 1-2).[3] Moreover, on the specific date that the contract was allegedly executed, Plaintiff was in the Lawrence County Jail for a sentencing hearing on an unrelated assault charge and was later transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Greene. (Id. at 1).

         In a 2013 "emergency petition for review," Plaintiff asserted various copyright claims regarding a "hard drive disc" of a television broadcast on August 21, 1995 (the same date that he . claims he entered into contract with the WWE Defendants) and that President Clinton had mailed him a check for $75 million (the same damages that he claims to be at issue here). (Id. at 2-3).[4]

         In large measure, Plaintiffs Response in Opposition does not address the issues raised by the WWE Defendants. (ECF No. 19). While Plaintiff does allege that several WWE personalities attended his August, 1995 sentencing in Lawrence County at which time they had Plaintiff sign the contract that he claims is at issue in this case and Plaintiff gave them "NWO/DX" t-shirts, the Amended Complaint makes no such allegation. (Id. at 1). Otherwise, the Response references individuals and events that do not appear to have any bearing on the claims asserted in this case. (Id. at 1-2).

         B. Standard of Review

         In order to survive a motion to dismiss that is brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must include factual allegations that "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "[W]ithout some factual allegation in the complaint, a claimant cannot satisfy the requirement that he or she provide not only 'fair notice' but also the 'grounds' on which the claim rests." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008). In determining whether a plaintiff has met this standard, a court must reject legal conclusions unsupported by factual allegations, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements;" "labels and conclusions;" and '"naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citations omitted). Mere "possibilities" of misconduct are insufficient. Id. at 679.

         "In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." Mayer ...

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