API Americas Inc. v. Miller
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting 20 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim). Signed by District Judge Carlos Murguia on 1/5/18. (hw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
API AMERICAS INC.,
Case No. 17-2617
PAUL W. MILLER,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
This matter comes before the court upon plaintiff API Americas Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss for
Failure to State a Claim (Doc. 20). Any response to plaintiff’s motion was due by December 18, 2017.
Defendant Paul W. Miller has filed no response. The motion is therefore considered uncontested.
This case was filed October 23, 2017, alleging breach of contract and other tort claims based on
defendant’s alleged violation of various contractual agreements with plaintiff. Plaintiff is in the
business of designing, manufacturing, and distributing hot stamping foils and other products for
companies such as Hallmark. Plaintiff alleges that defendant worked for plaintiff as a Technical
Account and Service Manager for over ten years before his voluntary resignation in September 2017.
Plaintiff claims that due to his employment, defendant learned confidential and propriety information,
including plaintiff’s trade secrets. Because of this knowledge, defendant’s employment was subject to
various contractual agreements, such as confidentiality, non-solicitation, and non-compete agreements.
After his employment with plaintiff ended, plaintiff alleges that defendant emailed himself
plaintiff’s proprietary information, began working for a direct competitor, and is assisting the
competitor compete for work with Hallmark, one of plaintiff’s largest customers. Plaintiff filed a
motion for temporary restraining order on October 24, 2015, which the court granted on November 7,
2017. (Doc. 18.)
Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss seeks to dismiss defendant’s counterclaim for defamation. On
November 5, 2017, defendant filed his answer and counterclaim to plaintiff’s complaint (Doc. 15).
Plaintiff argues in its motion to dismiss, that defendant fails to state a claim because: (1) defendant
failed to meet the heightened pleading standard requiring defamation to be plead with specificity; and
(2) defendant’s defamation claim fails to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) because the
statements made by plaintiff are privileged and therefore as a matter of law cannot form the basis of a
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
The court will grant a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) only
when the factual allegations fail to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the factual allegations need not be detailed, the
claims must set forth entitlement to relief “through more than labels, conclusions and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” In re Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practices Litig.,
534 F. Supp. 2d 1214, 1216 (D. Kan. 2008).
The allegations must contain facts sufficient to state a claim that is plausible, rather than merely
conceivable. Id. “All well-pleaded facts, as distinguished from conclusory allegations, must be taken
as true.” Swanson v. Bixler, 750 F.2d 810, 813 (10th Cir. 1984); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 681 (2009). The court construes any reasonable inferences from these facts in plaintiff’s favor.
Tal v. Hogan, 453 F.3d 1244, 1252 (10th Cir. 2006).
Defamation Claims in Kansas
Under Kansas Law, a defamation claim requires showing “false and defamatory words,
communicated to a third person, which result in harm to the reputation of the person defamed.” Hall v.
Kan. Farm Bureau, 50 P.3d 495, 504 (Kan. 2002).
At the pleading stage, a defamation claim must
meet the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), providing sufficient notice of the complained of
communications. Heckman v. Zurich Holding Co., No. 06-2435-KHV, 2007 WL 677607, at *5 (D.
Kan. Feb. 28, 2007).
Here, defendant must set forth “the allegedly defamatory words, the
communicator of those words, the persons to whom those words were published and the time and place
of publication” to survive plaintiff’s motion to dismiss.
Defendant’s counterclaim makes general assertions that “APO, by and through its officers
directors, agents, and/or employees have informed other people that” defendant has taken various
actions. (Doc. 15, at 18.) Defendant also alleges that these allegedly false and defamatory statements
were then “widely reported to the public at large” via the Kansas City Business Journal. (Id. at 19.)
Because defendant filed no response to plaintiff’s motion to dismiss, he provides no argument
supporting his position that these allegations should be considered sufficient.
allegations are insufficient to put plaintiff on notice of the specific defamatory statements defendant is
complaining of in this case. See, e.g., Heckman, 2007 WL 677607 at *6 (explaining that generic
statements do not provide sufficient details about a defamation claim to put the opposing party on
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff API Americas Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss for
Failure to State a Claim (Doc. 20) is granted.
Dated January 5, 2018, at Kansas City, Kansas.
s/ Carlos Murguia
United States District Judge
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