United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
RICK RICHARDS and ERNEST RICHARDS, II, Plaintiffs/ Counter Defendants,
OCTANE ENVIRONMENTAL, LLC, an Ohio limited liability company, TERENCE SEIKEL, CRAIG STACY, and JOSEPH SEIKEL, Defendants/Counter Claimants/ Third-Party Plaintiff/Counter Defendant,
JASON RICHARDS, AMANDA HUNT, AARON GILES, and JACOB RICHARDS, Third-Party Defendants/Counter Claimants against Octane Environmental, LLC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO
DISMISS THIRD-PARTY COMPLAINT AGAINST AMANDA HUNT, AARON
GILES, AND JACOB RICHARDS [ECF NO. 80]
S. KLEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss the Third-Party
Complaint against Amanda Hunt, Aaron Giles, and Jacob
Richards [ECF No. 80]. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court denies the Motion.
17, 2018, Rick Richards and Ernest Richards, II (together,
“Plaintiffs”) filed separate but related suits in
the Circuit Court of Harrison County, West Virginia, against
the Defendants, Octane Environmental, LLC
(“Octane”), Terence Seikel, Craig Stacy, and
Joseph Seikel (together, “Defendants”). On August
16, 2018, the actions were removed to the Northern District
of West Virginia. ECF No. 1. On August 23, 2018, Defendants
filed an Answer to the Complaint. ECF No. 7. On November 15,
2018, the Honorable Irene M. Keeley, United States District
Judge, entered an order consolidating the two cases through
the pretrial conference and designating 1:18-CV-158 as the
lead case. ECF No. 17. On December 3, 2018, the case was
transferred to the Honorable Thomas S. Kleeh, United States
January 16, 2019, the Court granted Defendants leave to file
a Third-Party Complaint against Amanda Hunt, Aaron Giles,
Jacob Richards, and Jason Richards. ECF Nos. 36, 37. The
Third-Party Complaints are docketed at ECF Nos. 38 and 39 in
CM/ECF. On April 5, 2019, Third-Party Defendants Amanda Hunt,
Aaron Giles, and Jacob Richards moved to dismiss the
Third-Party Complaint against them [ECF No. 80]. This Motion
is ripe for consideration and is the subject of this
Memorandum Opinion and Order.
Third-Party Complaint against Amanda Hunt, Aaron Giles, and
Jacob Richards [ECF Nos. 38, 39],  Octane alleges the following
set of facts, which the Court regards as true for purposes of
April 1, 2018, Octane implemented an employee handbook.
Third-Party Compl., ECF Nos. 38 and 39, at ¶ 12. Section
four (4) of the handbook provides, “Employees may not
use company systems in a manner that is unlawful, wasteful of
company resources, or unreasonably compromises employee
productivity or the overall integrity or stability of the
company's systems.” Id. ¶ 13. Nothing
in the handbook authorizes employees to delete information
and/or files from Octane-provided laptop computers.
Id. ¶ 14.
Hunt worked at Octane from April 24, 2017, to May 12, 2018,
as an Office Manager. Id. ¶ 15. Her
responsibilities included billing and invoicing Octane's
customers. Id. Octane issued to her a laptop
computer for work purposes. Id. ¶ 16. Aaron
Giles worked for Octane from June 2, 2017, to May 13, 2018.
Id. ¶ 17. He worked as a Field Supervisor and
then an Office Supervisor, and his responsibilities included
billing and invoicing Octane's customers. Id.
Aaron Giles was also issued a work laptop. Id.
¶ 18. Jacob Richards worked for Octane from April 28,
2017, to May 14, 2018, as an Office Assistant. Id.
¶ 19. His responsibilities included collecting and
reviewing credit card expense reports. Id. He was
also issued a work laptop. Id.
about May 11, 2018, Rick Richards instructed and/or advised
Amanda Hunt, Aaron Giles, and Jacob Richards to delete data
and/or information from their Octane-provided laptops.
Id. ¶ 22. This information included
confidential, proprietary, trade secret information and
critical information necessary for Octane to run its
business. Id. On or about May 11, 2018, Amanda Hunt
deleted confidential and/or trade secret information from her
Octane-provided laptop, including customer information,
vendor information, and financial records. Id.
¶ 23. On or about the same day, Aaron Giles deleted
confidential and/or trade secret information from his
Octane-provided laptop, including logistical information
necessary for Octane's business operations. Id.
¶ 24. On or about the same day, Jacob Richards deleted
confidential and/or trade secret information from his
Octane-provided laptop, including credit card expense reports
for Amanda Hunt, Aaron Giles, Rick Richards, Ernest Richards,
and several other individuals. Id. ¶ 25. After
ending their employment, Amanda Hunt, Aaron Giles, and Jacob
Richards began working for one of Octane's competitors
“days later.” Id. ¶ 26.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a
defendant to move for dismissal upon the ground that a
complaint does not “state a claim upon which relief can
be granted.” In ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court
“must accept as true all of the factual allegations
contained in the complaint.” Anderson v. Sara Lee
Corp., 508 F.3d 181, 188 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). A court
is “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(6)(b) tests the “legal
sufficiency of a complaint.” Francis v.
Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). A court
should dismiss a complaint if it does not contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Plausibility exists
“when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The factual allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above a
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545.
The facts must constitute more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.”
Id. at 555. A motion to dismiss “does not
resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a
claim, or the applicability of defenses.”
Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 942,
952 (4th Cir. 1992).