United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
DALTON JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
present motion, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. (Doc. 11 (“MTD”).)
Plaintiff responded to the MTD on June 7, 2017. (Doc. 20
(“Response”).) For the reasons
set forth below, the Court finds that the MTD is due be
granted in part and denied in part.
case arises from: (1) a copyright infringement action that
Defendant Paula White Ministries
(“PWM”) initiated against
Plaintiff Shirley Jn Johnson
(“Johnson”) more than three
years ago; and (2) a derivative malicious
prosecution action that Johnson initiated against Paula
Michelle White (“Ms. White”),
Paula Michelle Ministries, Inc.
(“PMM”), Defendant New Destiny
Christian Center Church, Inc. (“New
Destiny”), and Resurrection Life THC, Inc. in
Copyright Action, PWM described itself as “a global
ministry guided by the God-inspired vision of Paula White[, ]
who founded it with a strong desire to see lives transformed
for the better through relationship with God.”
Copyright Act, Doc. 1, ¶ 1. PWM alleged that it
used the Internet, television, radio, literature, and public
speaking to communicate its message. Id. Its
copyright infringement claims against Johnson were based on
allegations that “Johnson knowingly violated federal
copyright laws by copying, modifying, and displaying
PMW's original and creative works-photographs and
videos-on her website for financial gain and without
permission or authorization from PWM.” Johnson v.
New Destiny Christian Ctr. Church, Inc., No.
6:15-cv-1698-ORL-37GJK, 2017 WL 1093446, at *1 (M.D. Fla.
Mar. 23, 2017) (citing the Copyright Action, Doc. 1,
¶¶ 8, 10, 13). Johnson, however, maintained that such
allegations were asserted maliciously and in retaliation for
having exposed Paula White as a false preacher. Copyright
Action, Doc. 16, p. 9. Ultimately, U.S. District Judge
Gregory A. Presnell dismissed the case with prejudice, but
“advised Johnson that, should she wish to pursue
affirmative relief against PWM for malicious prosecution, she
could do so by filing a separate complaint.”
Johnson, 2017 WL 1093446, at *2 (citing
Copyright Action, Doc. 40).
Malicious Prosecution Action
to that advice, Johnson filed an action for malicious
prosecution (“Malicious Prosecution
Action”) six months later, see Johnson v.
New Destiny Christian Ctr. Church, Inc., Case No.
6:15-cv-1698-Orl-37GJK, Doc. 1, which was eventually assigned
to the Undersigned, Id., Doc. 5. It is still
ongoing. In the ad damnum clause of her Third
Amended Complaint, “Johnson request[ed] economic,
non-economic, and nominal damages pursuant to 17 U.S.C.
§ 512(f).” Johnson, 2017 WL 1093446, at
*4. She also alleged that PMM and PWM “violated her
rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by
filing the Copyright Action and making numerous false
copyright infringement complaints to YouTube, which caused
the removal of videos from her channel.” Id.
On March 23, 2017, the Court dismissed Johnson's
purported federal claims under § 512(f) and the First
Amendment without prejudice, but denied her leave to file a
fourth amended complaint due to the late stage of the
proceedings and the Court's belief that Johnson had
intended only to assert a claim for malicious prosecution
(“March 23 Dismissal Order”).
Id. at *11. Crucial to the Court's determination
was the fact that: (1) the operative pleading was titled
“Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint for Malicious
Prosecution”; (2) the sole count was titled
“Malicious Prosecution”; and (3) the introductory
paragraph of the complaint stated only that she was suing the
defendants for malicious prosecution. Id. at 5. The
malicious prosecution claim remains pending in that action.
the March 23 Dismissal Order, Johnson filed the instant
action against Defendants alleging claims for
misrepresentation under § 512(f) and abuse of process.
(Doc. 1 ¶ 29
Defendants have moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. 11.) Johnson has responded (Doc. 20),
and the matter is ripe for the Court's adjudication.
pleading must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “[D]etailed
factual allegations” are not required, but “[a]
pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or
‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Rather, “a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows [a] court to
draw the reasonable inference that defendant is liable for
the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678; see
also Bailey v. Wheeler, 843 F.3d 473, 480 (11th Cir.
Rule 12(b)(6), a party may request dismissal of a pleading
that falls short of these pleadings requirements. In
resolving such motions, courts limit their consideration to
the face of the complaint, its attachments, “documents
incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of
which a court may take judicial notice.” See
Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551
U.S. 308, 322-23 (2007); see also Hoefling v. City of
Miami, 811 F.3d 1271, 1277 (11th Cir. 2016). Dismissal
is warranted if, assuming the truth of the factual
allegations of the complaint in a plaintiff's favor,
there is a dispositive legal issue which precludes relief.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 (1989).