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Collins v. Travers Fine Jewels Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 28, 2017

JAMES COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
TRAVERS FINE JEWELS INC., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          SARAH NETBURN United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff James Collins commenced this action on May 20, 2016, asserting claims of breach of contract, violations of the Uniform Commercial Code, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligence, fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and false advertising claims against defendants Travers Fine Jewels Inc. and Sam Kassin. Defendants filed an answer on June 20, 2016, asserting two counterclaims. Plaintiff now moves to dismiss defendants' second counterclaim, for defamation, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         The relevant portion of defendants' June 20, 2016 Answer and Counterclaims are:

Upon information and belief, Plaintiff published and distributed inaccurate, libelous and defamatory statements as to the value of the jewelry purchased by him over a period of time from Travers.
The allegations of value were inaccurate and incorrect, and were procured by Plaintiff in an effort to demean, insult and vilify Defendants.
Plaintiff knew or had reason to know that the alleged appraisals inaccurately described the items purchased by him from Defendants.
As a result of such false statements, Defendants were damaged in their business and in their reputation in the amount of at least $500, 000, together with such punitive charges as the Court shall direct.

         Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims ¶¶ 23-26 (ECF No. 21). Plaintiff moved to dismiss this defamation counterclaim on the ground that defendants failed to state a claim.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         “A motion to dismiss a counterclaim is evaluated under the same standard as a motion to dismiss a complaint.” Radiancy, Inc. v. Viatek Consumer Prods. Grp., Inc., 138 F.Supp.3d 303, 313 (S.D.N.Y. 2014). The allegations in the counterclaim are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the counterclaimant's favor. See McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp., 482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir. 2007). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a counterclaim must allege facts that, accepted as true, “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). This standard “require[s] enough facts to ‘nudge [the] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         At the outset, the Court identifies those allegations that, because they are mere legal conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Defendants' allegations that the purported statements were “libelous and defamatory” are “naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545 (a claim repeating “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” will not suffice). Accordingly, the Court does not consider the portion of paragraph 23 of the Answer and Counterclaims that simply recites the statements as “libelous and defamatory.” Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims ¶ 23 (ECF No. 21).

         The remaining allegations assert that plaintiff “published and distributed” statements concerning the value of jewelry, that those statements were “inaccurate and incorrect, ” and that plaintiff “procured” these statements “in an effort to demean, insult and vilify” defendants. Id. ΒΆΒΆ ...


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