United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
PARKS, MILLICAN & MANN, LLC, Plaintiff/ Counterclaim Defendant,
FIGURES TOY COMPANY, Defendant / Counterclaimant / Cross-claimant, and RING OF HONOR WRESTLING ENTERTAINMENT, LLC, Defendant / Cross-claimant.
OPINION AND ORDER
G. DOUMAR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon the partial motion to
dismiss ("Motion") filed by Ring of Honor Wrestling
Entertainment, LLC ("ROH") against Figures Toy
Company ("Figures") (collectively, ROH and Figures
are referred to as "Defendants"), ECF No. 66. In
its Motion, ROH moves to dismiss Count 4 of Figures'
crossclaim against ROH, which seeks contribution in the event
Figures is found liable to Parks, Millican & Mann, LLC
("Plaintiff). For the reasons set forth herein, the
Motion is GRANTED.
filed its Complaint against Figures on September 2, 2016. ECF
No. 1. On November 15, 2016, Plaintiff filed an Amended
Complaint against Figures and ROH. ECF No. 6. On December 1,
2016, Figures filed a motion to dismiss, ECF No. 11, which
Plaintiff opposed, ECF No. 15. Following a hearing, this
Court ordered that Plaintiff and Figures file supplemental
briefs regarding whether the Copyright Act preempted Count
III, breach of contract and ordered that Plaintiff file a
second amended complaint by May 2, 2017. ECF No. 17.
Plaintiff and Figures filed their supplemental briefs on
April 18, 2017. ECF Nos. 19, 20.
filed its Second Amendment Complaint on May 2, 2017. ECF No.
21. Figures moved to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint on
May 17, 2017. ECF Nos. 27-29. Plaintiff opposed the motion on
May 31, 2017, ECF No. 32, and Figures replied on June 9,
2017, ECF No. 38. After being served and appearing in the
case, on June 15, 2017, ROH moved to dismiss the Second
Amended Complaint. ECF No. 39. Plaintiff opposed that motion
on June 28, 2017, ECF No. 42, and ROH replied on July 5,
2017, ECF No. 43.
November 27, 2017, this Court held a hearing concerning
Defendants' motions to dismiss the Second Amended
Complaint. Immediately following that hearing, the Court
issued an order granting Defendants' motions in part,
denying them in part, and ordering Plaintiff to file a third
amended complaint within fourteen days. ECF No. 46.
Specifically, the Court ruled Plaintiff had alleged facts
sufficient to state claims for relief against Figures and ROH
for copyright infringement (Count I) and violation of the
Digital Millennium Cop5night Act (Count VII). Id. at
3. It further ruled Plaintiffs claims for breach of contract
(Count III), tortious interference (Count IV), and fraudulent
inducement (Count VI), were preempted by the Copyright Act
and dismissed those claims with prejudice. Id. at
3-4. Finally, the Court withheld ruling on Plaintiffs claim
for business conspiracy (Count V), pending Plaintiffs third
amended complaint. Id; see also ECF No. 48 at 12.
December 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed its Third Amended
Complaint. ECF No. 49. The Third Amended Complaint alleges
Plaintiff has now received the copyright registration for one
additional design at issue, the 2012 World Heavyweight
Championship Belt (the "Heavyweight Belt").
Id. ¶ 14. Otherwise, the allegations are
substantially similar to those in the Second Amended
Complaint, which the Court summarized in its November 29,
2017 Memorandum Opinion. ECF No. 48 at 2-4. Figures filed a
motion to dismiss parts of the Third Amended Complaint on
December 22, 2017, ECF Nos. 50, 51, and ROH filed a motion to
dismiss parts of the Third Amended Complaint on December 23,
2017, ECF Nos. 53, 54. Plaintiff opposed both Motions to
Dismiss on January 5, 2018, ECF Nos. 55, 56, and both
Defendants filed replies, ECF Nos. 57, 58. On February 28,
2018, the Court denied Defendants' motions to dismiss
with regard to intentional violation of copyright (Count I)
and violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Count
VII), but dismissed Plaintiffs claim for business conspiracy
(Count V) with prejudice. ECF No. 60.
March 14, 2018 both Defendants answered Plaintiffs Second
Amended Complaint and each filed cross-claims against the
other. ECF Nos. 61-63. Figures also filed a counterclaim
against Plaintiff. ECF No. 61. On April 4, 2018, each party
filed a response to the new claims: Plaintiff answered
Figures' counterclaim. ECF No. 64. Figures answered
ROH's cross-claim. ECF No. 65. And ROH answered
Figures' cross-claim, ECF No. 68, except with regard to
one count, which ROH moved to dismiss, ECF No. 66.
partial motion to dismiss, ROH asks this Court to dismiss
Count Four of Figures' cross-claim, which seeks
contribution from ROH in the event Figures is found liable to
Plaintiff for copyright infringement or a violation of the
DMCA. Id. at 3. Figures did not oppose the Motion by
its response deadline. The Motion is ripe for disposition.
function of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to
test "the sufficiency of a complaint." Occupy
Columbia v. Haley, 738 F.3d 107, 116 (4th Cir. 2013).
"[I]mportantly, it 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 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992). "To survive such a
motion, the complaint must contain facts sufficient 'to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level' and
'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Haley. 738 F.3d at 116. When
reviewing the legal sufficiency of a complaint, the Court
must accept "all well-pleaded allegations in the
plaintiffs complaint as true" and draw "all
reasonable factual inferences from those facts in the
plaintiffs favor." Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999). Legal
conclusions, on the other hand, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth if they are not supported by factual
allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662, 678
Four of Figures cross-claim, in addition to incorporating
earlier allegations, highlights that Plaintiff sued Figures
and ROH for copyright infringement and violation of the DMCA,
that Plaintiff seeks to hold Defendants jointly and severally
liable for damages, and concludes "[i]n the event
Figures is found liable for one or more of the claims
asserted against it by [Plaintiff], Figures is entitled to
contribution from ROH for some or all of any monetary relief
that Figures may be ordered to pay." ECF No. 61 at 25.
argues the Court should dismiss this count because there is
no right to sue for contribution under the Copyright Act or
the DMCA. ECF No. 67 at 3. As federal statutes, ROH argues,
the only way a party can sue for contribution under them is
if (1) Congress explicitly or implicitly created such a
right, or (2) the federal courts have created such a right
through the common law. Id. Although ROH provides no
case from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, it cites
several cases from federal district Courts ruling that a
party cannot sue another for contribution under the Copyright
Act. See, e.g.. Pure Country Weavers v. Bristar.
Inc.,410 F.Supp.2d 439, 448 (W.D. N.C. 2006) (ruling
"[N]o right of indemnification was affirmatively created
(either expressly or implicitly) by Congress in the Copyright
Act, and . . . this is not one of the 'limited
situations' in which the Court should formulate federal
common law to create such a right" but allowing claims