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Beaulieu v. Stockwell

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 14, 2018

Allen Beaulieu, individually and d/b/a Allen Beaulieu Photography, Plaintiff,
v.
Clint Stockwell, an individual; Studio 1124, LLC, a Minnesota limited liability company; Thomas Martin Crouse, an individual; Charles Willard “Chuck” Sanvik, an individual and Does 3 through 7, Defendants.

          Alexander Farrell, Esq., and Russell M. Spence, Jr, Esq., Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC, counsel for Plaintiff.

          George R. Serdar, Esq., John R. Beattie, Esq., and Kevin D. Hofman, Esq., Messerli & Kramer P.A., counsel for Defendants Clint Stockwell, Charles Sanvik, and Studio 1124, LLC.

          Michael M. Sawers, Esq., Briggs & Morgan, PA, counsel for Defendant Thomas Crouse.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff in this case photographed the artist Prince and then sought to publish those photos. The defendants, under the guise of helping the plaintiff, took those photos, but instead are trying to sell them without the plaintiff. This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss from one of the defendants. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Allen Beaulieu photographed the artist Prince and copyrighted the photos in 1984. Recently, Beaulieu decided to publish a book of his Prince photographs. In his efforts to complete the project, Beaulieu gave Defendant Clint Stockwell forty-two of the photographs. Later, under the guise of speeding up the scanning process, Stockwell and Defendant Crouse took approximately 3, 000 photos from Beaulieu.[1] Defendants are now trying to sell the photos and refuse to return them. Beaulieu alleges that Defendant Sanvik (the movant here) was asked to finance the project by the other Defendants. (Doc. No. 47 (“Am. Compl.”) ¶ 62.) Additionally, Beaulieu alleges that Sanvik has some of the photos and that Sanvik is working in concert with the other Defendants to withhold the photos from Beaulieu. (Id. ¶¶ 85, 87.)

         When Defendants ignored Beaulieu's repeated requests to return the photos, [2]Beaulieu filed suit alleging a number of claims. As relevant here, Beaulieu has brought claims against Sanvik for conversion, tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage, and injunctive relief. Sanvik now moves the Court to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court assumes all facts in the complaint to be true and construes all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the complainant. Morton v. Becker, 793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). In doing so, however, a court need not accept as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch. Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir. 1999), or legal conclusions drawn by the pleader from the facts alleged, Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990). A court deciding a motion to dismiss may consider the complaint, matters of public record, orders, materials embraced by the complaint, and exhibits attached to the complaint. See Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d 1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although a complaint need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ” it must contain facts with enough specificity “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. at 555. As the Supreme Court reiterated, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, ” will not pass muster under Twombly. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In sum, this standard “calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [the claim].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.[3]

         II. ...


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