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Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Dsp, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 19, 2014

DSP, LLC, dba The Haus Pizzeria & Bar, and DAVID MCDONALD, Defendants.


JEAN C. HAMILTON, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant David McDonald's (hereinafter "McDonald") Motion to Dismiss as a Party, filed October 15, 2014. (ECF No. 51). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.


Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (hereinafter "Plaintiff") is a California corporation, with its principal place of business located in Campbell, California. (Second Amended Complaint (hereinafter "Complaint" or "Compl."), ¶ 5). By contract, Plaintiff obtained the exclusive nationwide television distribution rights to " Ultimate Fighting Championship 127: BJ Penn v. Jon Fitch " (hereinafter the "televised event"). ( Id., ¶ 9). The televised event took place on February 26, 2011, in New South Wales, Australia. ( Id. ). Prior to the televised event, Plaintiff entered into sublicensing agreements with various commercial entities throughout North America (i.e. hotels, sports bars, restaurants, etc.), including entities within the State of Missouri. ( Id., ¶ 10). These agreements granted limited sublicense rights to the contracting entities, which allowed them publicly to exhibit the televised event to their patrons. ( Id. ).

Defendant DSP, LLC is a limited liability company organized under the laws of the State of Missouri, and doing business as The Haus Pizzeria & Bar located in Ballwin, Missouri. (Compl., ¶ 6). Defendant McDonald was a member of DSP, LLC on the date at issue, February 26, 2011. (McDonald's Motion to Dismiss, ¶ 3). According to Plaintiff:

With full knowledge that the [televised event] was not to be intercepted, received and exhibited by entities unauthorized to do so, the above-named Defendants and/or their agents, servants, workmen or employees did unlawfully publish, divulge and exhibit the [televised event] at the time of its transmission at their Ballwin, Missouri location... Said unauthorized interception, publication, exhibition and divulgence by the Defendants was done willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.

(Compl., ¶ 12). As a result, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint against DSP, LLC and McDonald, alleging violations of 47 U.S.C. § 605 et seq. and 47 U.S.C. § 553 et seq., as well as a state law conversion claim. (ECF No. 32).

In his Motion to Dismiss as a Party, McDonald fails to indicate whether his motion is brought pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6), or Rule 21. ( See McDonald's Motion to Dismiss, ¶ 4). As explained below, the Court finds that McDonald's motion fails under either analysis.


I. McDonald Fails To Establish Improper Joinder

McDonald's request for dismissal from Plaintiff's Complaint cites Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 21 as establishing the Court's authority to dismiss individuals from a lawsuit. (Defendant David McDonald's Memorandum in Support of his Motion to Dismiss as a Party (hereinafter "McDonald's Memo in Support"), ¶ 4). His argument for dismissal from the lawsuit, however, is based entirely on the theory that Plaintiff cannot state a claim against him because it fails to allege facts sufficient to pierce the corporate veil between DSP, LLC and McDonald. ( Id., ¶¶ 2, 3). As a result, McDonald's motion reads as one to dismiss for failure to state a claim, rather than for improper joinder.

In any event, the Court finds McDonald was properly joined in this action pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing permissive joinder. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2) (joinder of parties as defendants is proper if the right to relief asserted against them arises "out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action."). District courts have discretion to determine whether joinder is appropriate, and their analysis is performed on a case by case basis. See Mosley v. General Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1332-1333 (8th Cir. 1974). The purpose of permissive joinder is to "promote trial convenience and expedite the final determination of disputes, thereby preventing multiple lawsuits." Id. at 1332.

Here, Plaintiff's requested right to relief against McDonald and DSP, LLC arises out of the same transaction or occurrence, i.e., the alleged unlawful exhibition of the televised event. (Compl., ¶ 12). Furthermore, there are questions of fact common to both Defendants in the action, including whether or not the alleged unlawful exhibition in ...

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