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Paul v. Raytroniks Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division

April 20, 2018

JEAN PAUL and I RIDE 4 ME INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
RAYTRONIKS INC.; RAJUN CAJUN, INC.; and WILLIAM RAY NORWOOD, JR. a/k/a RAY J, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

          FEDERICO A. MORENO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Background

         This case arises out of a purported business relationship between Plaintiff Jean Paul and Defendant William Ray Norwood, Jr., [1] also known as Ray J. Plaintiffs filed a seven-count Complaint in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida and Defendants timely removed to this Court. Plaintiff Jean Paul is the president of I Ride 4 Me, Inc. I Ride 4 Me, Inc. is a Florida corporation that sold scooter bikes featuring the brand "iRide4Me." Defendant Norwood is allegedly the principal of Defendants Raytroniks Inc. and Rajun Cajun Inc., companies that sell electric scooter bikes featuring the brand "Scoot-E-Bike." Plaintiffs allege that Norwood agreed to become an investor, celebrity endorser and seller of Plaintiffs' iRide4Me electric scooter. Plaintiffs further allege that on October 10, 2015, Plaintiffs entered into a business plan agreement for the sale and distribution of iRide4Me electric scooter bikes with a China-based manufacturing company: Dong Guan LEHE Intelligent Technology Co. Ltd. Pursuant to the business plan agreement, Jean Paul and Norwood purportedly finalized their agreement to enter into a business venture for the sale and promotion of the iRide4Me scooter in November 2015.

         Plaintiffs were allegedly short on funding to carry out the business plan agreement, so in December 2015, Jean Paul submits that he traveled to New York City and hand delivered two iRide4Me scooters to Norwood, to be used to obtain financing to fulfill the first order of scooters contemplated by the business plan agreement. On December 6, 2015, Jean Paul purportedly sent Norwood the business plan agreement along with a separate investor's agreement where Norwood would tender $25, 000 for the purpose of ordering the first set of iRide4Me scooters. Plaintiffs submit that Norwood never signed the agreement but instead made it his own by completing a contract with LEHE for the distribution and sale of a similar electric scooter bike, marketed under the name Scoot-E-Bike.

         Plaintiffs filed a seven-count Complaint under Florida law alleging: (I) Tortious Interference with Advantageous Business Relationship; (II) Civil Theft; (III) Unlawful Conversion; (IV) a violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; (V) Unfair Competition; (VI) Defamation; and (VII) Unjust Enrichment. Defendants move to partially[2]dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion with leave to amend the Complaint.

         II. Legal Standard

         "A pleading that states a claim for relief 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). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept the plaintiffs well-pleaded facts as true. See St. Joseph's Hosp., Inc. v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 795 F.2d 948, 954 (11th Cir. 1986). To 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 Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but a pleading must offer more than "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Jackson v. BellSouth Telecomm., 372 F.3d 1250, 1263 (11th Cir. 2004) ("To survive a motion to dismiss, plaintiffs must do more than merely state legal conclusions; they are required to allege some specific factual bases for those conclusions or face dismissal of their claims."). In short, the complaint must not merely allege misconduct, but must demonstrate that the pleader is "entitled to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78.

         III. Analysis

         Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' claims fail because Florida law prohibits lawsuits for the theft of ideas, absent a signed writing. The Complaint alleges that Defendants "usurped Plaintiffs' Business Plan Agreement, Plaintiffs' concept of the celebrity endorsed electric scooter bike, and Plaintiffs' ability to have the sole selling privilege in the United States of the LEHE Kl electric scooter bike." D.E. 1-2 Ex. A ¶ 29. Defendants rely on Florida Statute 501.972, a section titled "Actions based upon use of a creation that is not protected under federal copyright law, " that states in relevant part:

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), the use of an idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, discovery, thought, or other creation that is not a work of authorship protected under federal copyright law does not give rise to a claim or cause of action, in law or in equity, unless the parties to the claim or cause of action have executed a writing sufficient to indicate that a contract has been made between them governing such use.
(2) Subsection (1) does not affect or limit:
(a) Any cause of action based in copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret; or
(b) Any defense raised in connection with a cause of action described in paragraph (a).

         Plaintiffs claim $30, 000, 000 in damages for the theft and unauthorized use of (1) Plaintiffs' business plan agreement; (2) two iRide4Me scooters; and (3) the concept of the celebrity endorsed electric scooter bike. D.E. 1-2 Ex. A ¶ 56. Thus, the Court must analyze whether the relief sought by Plaintiffs is preempted by ...


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