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Taylor v. Rockyou, Inc.

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

August 29, 2019

ENRICO TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCKYOU, INC., Defendant,

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on its own motion. On July 12, 2019, the Court ordered plaintiff to show cause why this action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff was given thirty days in which to file a response. No response has been received. Therefore, for the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss plaintiff's complaint without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3).

         Background

         Plaintiff filed his original complaint on June 4, 2018, naming Rock You, Inc. as defendant. He asserted diversity of citizenship as the basis of jurisdiction, and stated that he was a Missouri citizen, while Rock You, Inc. was a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in California. (Docket No. 1 at 3-4). Plaintiff accused defendant Rock You, Inc. of conspiring against him to commit “grand larceny.” (Docket No. 1 at 5).

         On November 6, 2018, the Court ordered plaintiff to file an amended complaint. (Docket No. 5). The Court noted that plaintiff's complaint contained a number of defects, including a reliance on conclusory language and a failure to establish the nature of the alleged conspiracy against him. (Docket No. 5 at 2-3). The Court also noted that while plaintiff asserted a jurisdictional amount of $75, 001, he acknowledged that his actual losses were likely below $10, 000. (Docket No. 1 at 4). Plaintiff was given directions on filing his amended complaint and given thirty days in which to respond. He duly filed an amended complaint on December 6, 2018.

         The Amended Complaint

         In his amended complaint, plaintiff named three defendants: Rock You, Inc.; Little Things, Inc.; and Joseph Speiser. Plaintiff stated that he was a Missouri citizen, while Joseph Speiser was a New York citizen, Rock You, Inc. was a California corporation, and Little Things, Inc. was a Delaware corporation. (Docket No. 6 at 2-3). While the parties were diverse, plaintiff did not assert diversity of citizenship as a basis for jurisdiction, and he did not claim the requisite jurisdictional amount. Instead, plaintiff asserted that the Court's jurisdiction was based on a federal question, and listed the following statutes as being at issue in this case: 29 U.S.C. § 1109, liability for breach of fiduciary duty; 18 U.S.C. § 1343, wire fraud; the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act; and 18 U.S.C. § 1964, the civil remedies section of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). (Docket No. 6 at 4).

         In the Statement of Claim, plaintiff alleged that he had a revenue sharing partnership with defendant Little Things, Inc. from 2015 to 2018. (Docket No. 6 at 6). Defendant Speiser was purportedly the CEO of Little Things, Inc. Under their arrangement, Little Things, Inc. agreed to pay plaintiff “on a Net 30 basis” for web traffic that plaintiff generated. On February 28, 2018, on the day that plaintiff was to be paid for January's traffic, defendant Little Things, Inc. announced its closing. When plaintiff asked to be paid for his work in January and February, he was advised that the “bank [had taken] over the situation.” Plaintiff alleged that defendant Little Things, Inc. “sold all of their assets in secret to Rock You, Inc. via an asset purchase agreement.” He further stated that Little Things, Inc. hid from him without paying, thereby breaching its “fiduciary duty.”

         Plaintiff also claimed that there were “secret plans” between defendants Little Things, Inc., CEO Speiser, and Rock You, Inc. to buy all Little Things, Inc.'s assets. He asserted that Speiser and Little Things, Inc. made Rock You, Inc. aware of the debt owed to plaintiff, and that Rock You, Inc. “decided to do an asset purchase to try and avoid future liability, ” knowing that it would hurt him. Plaintiff claimed that this amounted to a conspiracy against him. Furthermore, he stated that Little Things, Inc. and Speiser were unjustly enriched at his expense. (Docket No. 6 at 7).

         Finally, plaintiff alleged that Little Things, Inc., “under Joseph Speiser's command, ” made a false statement in an email claiming that Little Things, Inc. had ceased doing business on February 28. However, in a separate federal case, a Little Things, Inc. attorney “claimed it really ceased business on February 27.” Separate emails from Little Things, Inc. stated “that the debt was being controlled by the bank” and that “they were working to ensure the best outcome for its creditors.” Plaintiff alleged this was false and that Little Things, Inc. was “buying time to sell [its] assets” to Rock You, Inc., all while knowing that plaintiff was owed money. Plaintiff claimed this amounted to fraud.

         Plaintiff sought damages in the amount of $10, 001, though he requested the Court's “full discretion over the amount to be rewarded.” (Docket No. 6 at 6). Elsewhere in the amended complaint, however, he noted that his actual damages were between $5, 000 and $10, 000. (Docket No. 6 at 8). He also asserted that he should be given punitive damages because defendants “have been trying to game the bankruptcy process.”

         Order to Show Cause

         On July 12, 2019, the Court ordered plaintiff to show cause why his case should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Docket No. 7). The Court noted that plaintiff had not established diversity jurisdiction because he did not allege an amount in controversy over $75, 000. The Court further noted that plaintiff had not demonstrated the existence of a federal question because the statutes he cited were either inapplicable to his case or were criminal statutes that did not provide him a private right of ...


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