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Apex Physical Therapy, LLC v. Ball

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 19, 2017

APEX PHYSICAL THERAPY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ZACHARY BALL, TODD LINEBARGER, and ADVANCED PHYSICAL THERAPY, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on defendant Zachary Ball's Motion (Doc. 13) to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and defendant Todd Linebarger's Motion (Doc. 14) to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. The plaintiff filed a timely response to each motion. (Docs. 19 and 20).

         1. Background.

         This matter was initially filed in the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois and removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446 (diversity of citizenship). The complaint alleges breach of contract and injunctive relief against defendants Ball and Linenbarger and tortious interference with business expectancy and civil conspiracy against all defendants.

         Generally, the complaint alleges that the defendants, Ball and Linenbarger, worked for the plaintiff and left to become employed by defendant Advance. Plaintiff operates a network of physical therapy rehabilitation services for industrial clients and defendant Advance is a competitor providing the same services. Plaintiff alleges that once defendants Ball and Linenbarger became employed with Advance, they solicited the plaintiff's customers in violation of their employment and confidentiality agreements.

         2. Standards.

         When reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This requirement is satisfied if the complaint (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 556).

         In Bell Atlantic, the Supreme Court rejected the more expansive interpretation of Rule 8(a)(2) that “a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief, ” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 561-63; Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777. Now “it is not enough for a complaint to avoid foreclosing possible bases for relief; it must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief . . . by providing allegations that ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777 (quoting Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555).

         Nevertheless, Bell Atlantic did not do away with the liberal federal notice pleading standard. Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007). A complaint still need not contain detailed factual allegations, Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555, and it remains true that “[a]ny district judge (for that matter, any defendant) tempted to write ‘this complaint is deficient because it does not contain . . .' should stop and think: What rule of law requires a complaint to contain that allegation?” Doe v. Smith, 429 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original). Nevertheless, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555. If the factual detail of a complaint is “so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8, ” it is subject to dismissal. Airborne Beepers, 499 F.3d at 667.

         The Court may review all exhibits attached to the complaint and “[w]here an exhibit and the complaint conflict, the exhibit typically controls. A court is not bound by the party's characterization of an exhibit and may independently examine and form its own opinions about the document.” Forrest v. Universal Sav. Bank, F.A., 507 F.3d 540, 542 (7th Cir. 2007).

         In this matter, there is a choice of law provision that neither party challenges. The choice of law provision mandates that the law of the State of Illinois will govern.

         3. Analysis.

         a. Defendant Zachary Ball's Motion (Doc. 13) to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim.

          Defendant Ball first moves for dismissal arguing a lack of consideration. According to defendant Ball, he “was not employed by Plaintiff for the requisite two years in order for the restrictive covenant Plaintiff attempts to rely upon to be enforceable.” (Doc. 20 at 1). Mr. Ball was employed by Apex from April 30, ...


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