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RSK Enterprises, LLC v. Comcast Spectacor, L.P.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 8, 2018



          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff RSK Enterprises brings various claims against Defendants Comcast Spectacor, Global Spectrum, and Brian Martin arising from a musical performance that Plaintiff arranged and for which Plaintiff alleges it was not fully paid. [30]. Plaintiff asserts the following claims against all defendants: unfair competition in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125 et seq. (Count I); breach of contract (Count II); unjust enrichment (Count III); breach of fiduciary duty (Count IV); fraud in the inducement (Count V); and deceptive practices (Count VI). Id. Martin moved to dismiss all claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction [36], and Comcast Spectacor and Global Spectrum moved to dismiss Counts IV-VI, [37]. As explained below, this Court grants both motions.

         I. Background [1]

         Plaintiff RSK Enterprises is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in Chicago, Illinois. [30] ¶ 7. Plaintiff works exclusively with Robert S. Kelly, who sings and produces records under the name R. Kelly, and contracts out Kelly's performances. Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff is also the exclusive licensee for the registered trademark “R. KELLY, ” with Registration Number 2, 638, 246. Id. ¶ 21; [30-1]. On or around January 26, 2017, Plaintiff or its agents accepted an offer for Kelly to perform at the Macon Centreplex in Macon, Georgia, on February 12, 2017 (the Performance). [30] ¶ 33. The Performance led to this dispute.

         Comcast Spectacor (Spectacor) is a Pennsylvania limited partnership that manages performance venues and has its principal place of business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9. Defendant Global Spectrum, d/b/a Spectra Venue Management (Global), is a Delaware limited partnership with its principal place of business in Philadelphia, which contracts and hosts entertainment events. Id. ¶¶ 10, 11, 22. Spectacor controls and manages Global. Id. ¶ 12. Together, Spectacor and Global contract and host performances at the Macon Centreplex. Id. ¶ 23. Martin, a Georgia resident, works for Spectacor and Global as the Assistant General Manager of the Centreplex. Id. ¶¶ 13-15; [30-3] at 2. Defendants collectively manage the Centreplex, including its social media accounts. [30] ¶¶ 16, 25.

         On or around December 31, 2016, Defendants began advertising a Kelly performance on the Centreplex's Facebook page, using the R. Kelly mark. Id. ¶ 25- 26. They used the mark on the Centreplex's Facebook page through July 2017, despite the fact that Plaintiff, the mark's exclusive licensee, never granted Defendants the right to use the mark. Id. ¶¶ 26-28.

         Plaintiff agreed to the Performance on or around January 26, 2017. Id. ¶ 33. Plaintiff does not specify who made the offer to perform that Plaintiff accepted on January 26, and does not allege that this agreement was with Defendants. See id. From the pleadings and exhibits, it appears that Real Talent Media Group, or its agent Romel Murphy, coordinated this initial agreement, including securing the Centreplex as a venue for the Performance. See [30-3] at 2; [36-1].

         Defendants control the box office at the Centreplex, and communicated with Plaintiff about payment for the performance. [30] ¶ 24; [30-3]. Plaintiff had agreed to be paid for the Performance in two installments: $100, 000 as an immediate initial deposit, and $100, 000 just prior to the Performance. [30] ¶ 34. Because the Performance was scheduled for February 12, a Sunday, the parties agreed that Defendants would hold onto the second payment and wire it to Plaintiff on Monday, February 13, the next business day after the Performance. See id. ¶¶ 35, 38.

         In an email exchange dated January 26, 2017, Murphy emailed Martin to connect him with Kelly's tour manager, Courtney Carter, and to confirm the agreement that “a $100, 000 wire” would “go out to R. Kelly on Monday following the show.” [30-3] at 2. Martin responded: “Thanks Romel. Courtney - Copying Brenda and Jen on this email as well. They will be your contacts to advance the show. Look forward to a successful show! Brian.” [30-3] at 2. Carter replied with Plaintiff's wire information that same day. Id. at 1.

         The Performance took place as planned on February 12. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. Plaintiff never received the second installment of $100, 000. Id. ¶ 42. Plaintiff sued Defendants in April 2017. [1]. Plaintiff filed its second amended complaint in July 2017 [30], and Defendants moved to dismiss, [36, 37]. Martin seeks to dismiss all claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction [36], while Spectacor and Global seek to dismiss Counts IV-VI for failure to state a claim, [37].

         II. Legal Standard

         When a defendant moves to dismiss a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction, the plaintiff has the burden of proving jurisdiction. Purdue Research Found. v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, S.A., 338 F.3d 773, 782 (7th Cir. 2003). The district court must hold an evidentiary hearing if any material facts are disputed; otherwise, the court need only determine that the plaintiff has made out “a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction” based upon the parties' written submissions. Hyatt Int'l Corp. v. Coco, 302 F.3d 707, 713 (7th Cir. 2002). In considering the parties' written submissions, this Court resolves factual disputes in the plaintiff's favor. Purdue Research, 338 F.3d at 782.

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “challenges the sufficiency of the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” Gen. Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1080 (7th Cir. 1997). A motion to dismiss does not test the merits of a case. Autry v. Nw. Premium Servs., Inc., 144 F.3d 1037, 1039 (7th Cir. 1998).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must first provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), giving the defendant “fair notice” of the claim “and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Second, a complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter” to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A claim has facial plausibility “when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard “is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Thus, “threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Limestone Dev. Corp. v. Vill. of Lemont, 520 F.3d 797, 803 (7th Cir. 2008). In evaluating a complaint, this Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. This Court does not, however, automatically accept a complaint's legal conclusions as true. Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009).

         Count V of Plaintiff's amended complaint, alleging fraud in the inducement, must also meet Rule 9(b)'s heightened pleading requirements. Rule 9(b) demands that claimants alleging fraud “state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud.” Particularity requires that plaintiffs “describe the who, what, when, where, and how of the fraud-the first paragraph of any newspaper story.” Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. Retiree Med. Benefits Trust v. Walgreen Co., 631 F.3d 436, 441-42 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). For example, if the alleged fraud involves misrepresentation, the plaintiff must state who made “the misrepresentation, the time, place, and content of the misrepresentation, and [how] the misrepresentation was communicated.” United States ex rel. Grenadyor v. Ukrainian Vill. Pharmacy, Inc., 772 F.3d 1102, 1106 (7th Cir. 2014). Although different cases require different levels of detail for a complaint to satisfy ...

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