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,
AMANDA HUNT, AARON GILES, and JACOB RICHARDS, Third-Party Defendants/Counter Claimants against Octane Environmental, LLC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO
DISMISS AMENDED COUNTERCLAIMS [ECF NO. 155]
S. KLEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Motion to Strike/Dismiss the
Counterclaims of Octane [ECF No. 155]. 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. On
January 28, 2019, the Court granted Defendants leave to amend
their Answer to include Counterclaims against Plaintiffs. ECF
Nos. 47, 48. Defendants filed the Counterclaims on February
18, 2019. ECF Nos. 51, 52.
August 13, 2019, the Court granted Rick Richards leave to
file an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 142. On August 27, 2019,
Defendants filed an Answer and Counterclaim in response to
the Amended Complaint, adding an additional counterclaim. ECF
No. 147. Rick Richards then moved to dismiss the additional
counterclaim. ECF No. 155. This motion is ripe for
consideration and the subject of this Memorandum Opinion and
Amended Counterclaim against Rick Richards [ECF No. 147],
Octane alleges the following set of facts, which the Court
regards as true for purposes of the Motion. These are the
same facts, with respect to Rick Richards, asserted in the
original Counterclaims against Rick and Ernest Richards.
2016, Octane hired Rick Richards as its general manager. Am.
Countercl., ECF No. 147, at ¶ 1. During his period of
employment with Octane, Rick Richards misrepresented himself
to some of Octane's suppliers and customers as a partial
owner of the company. Id. ¶¶ 2, 3. While
Rick Richards was employed by Octane, he installed and
maintained a program on his Octane-provided laptop that
allowed him to immediately delete the contents of the
computer by pushing a few keystrokes. Id. ¶ 9.
April 1, 2018, Octane implemented an employee handbook.
Id. ¶ 5. 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. ¶ 6. Nothing in the handbook authorizes
employees to delete information and/or files from
Octane-provided laptop computers. Id. ¶ 7.
Section 4 also provides that “employees must never use
their position with the company, or any of its customers, for
private financial gain to advance personal financial
interests, to obtain favors or benefits for themselves,
members of their families or any other individuals . . .
.” Id. ¶ 8.
13, 2018, Rick Richards emailed his letter of resignation to
Terence Seikel. Id. ¶ 4. Before he did so, he
provided Ernest Richards with software, information, and/or
instructions on how to delete data and/or information from
Ernest Richards's Octane-provided laptop (and then
instructed him to do so). Id. ¶¶ 10, 11.
On or around May 11, 2018, Rick Richards provided Amanda
Hunt, Aaron Giles, and Jacob Richards with information about
how to do the same. Id. ¶¶ 12, 14, 16. He
then instructed and/or advised them to do so. Id.
¶¶ 13, 15, 17.
May 7, 2018, and May 10, 2018, Rick Richards connected a WD
Easystore device to his Octane-provided laptop and
transferred proprietary and/or confidential information from
the laptop to the device. Id. ¶¶ 18, 19.
Before submitting his notice of resignation at Octane, Rick
Richards solicited the following employees to work for a
competitor: Aaron Giles, Jason Richards, Amanda Hunt, Jacob
Richards, Rudys Banegas Bonilla, Olmy Chavez Galeas, Anthony
Curry, Dalton Davis, Michael Jordan, Sixto Melendez, Fredis
Moran, Khamtu Phommalinh, Julio Rocha, Somphanh Phongsa,
Samane Visethsounethone, Xay Xayavongsack, Somchai
Khunthawat, Salvador Cortes-Aboitez, Sid Mahathirash, and
Somphiane Khiaosoth. Id. ¶ 20.
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