United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [Doc. No. 16]
and Brief in Support [Doc. No. 17], filed pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff has responded in opposition
[Doc. No. 20], and Defendant has replied [Doc. No. 21].
brings suit alleging Defendant sent false and threatening
response letters (“Response
Letters”) to roughly fifty in-network medical
providers (“Providers”) intending to intimidate
Providers from referring patient samples to Plaintiff for
testing. Plaintiff alleges Defendant's Response Letters
were defamatory and tortiously interfered with
Plaintiff's prospective contractual relationships with
Providers, other in-network providers, and patients.
Plaintiff requests injunctive relief prohibiting Defendant
from making any further false or defamatory assertions about
Plaintiff and requiring Defendant to issue a retraction.
Motion, Defendant contends Plaintiff has failed to state a
plausible claim for relief. Specifically, Defendant contends
that (1) Plaintiff's tortious interference claim fails
because Plaintiff did not plead the required elements; (2)
Plaintiff's defamation claim fails because Plaintiff did
not identify any actionable statements by Defendant; and (3)
Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief is
unconstitutionally broad and vague, and therefore, seeks to
unlawfully restrict Defendant's freedom of speech, and is
survive a motion to dismiss [under Rule 12(b)(6)], a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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.”
Id. The “plausibility” standard
announced in Twombly and Iqbal is not
considered a “heightened” standard of pleading,
but rather a “refined standard, ” which the Tenth
Circuit has defined as “refer[ring] to the scope of the
allegations in a complaint: if they are so general that they
encompass a wide swath of conduct, much of it innocent, then
the plaintiff [has] not nudged [its] claims across the line
from conceivable to plausible.” Khalik v. United
Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012) (citing
Kan. Penn Gaming, LLC. v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210,
1214 (10th Cir. 2011); see also Robbins v. Oklahoma,
519 F.3d 1242, 1247 (10th Cir. 2008).
Tenth Circuit has further noted that “[t]he nature and
specificity of the allegations required to state a plausible
claim will vary based on context.” Id.
(quoting Kan. Penn Gaming, 656 F.3d at 1215).
“Thus . . . the Twombly/Iqbal
standard is ‘a middle ground between heightened fact
pleading, which is expressly rejected,  and allowing
complaints that are no more than labels and conclusions or a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,
which the Court stated will not do.'” Id.
(quoting Robbins, 519 F.3d at 1247). Although it
remains true that “[s]pecific facts are not necessary
[and] the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests, '” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555),
“the complaint must still provide enough factual
allegations for a court to infer potential victory.”
Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1104 (10th
Cir. 2009) (internal quotations omitted).
case, Plaintiff submits exhibits and includes by reference
outside materials in support of its claims, and both parties
reference those exhibits and other materials in their briefs.
See Compl. [Doc. No. 1] at 5-6; Ex. 1 [Doc. No.
1-1]; Ex. 2 [Doc. No. 1-2]. Because Plaintiff's claims
rely on the exhibits and other materials, it is proper to
consider them as part of the Complaint without converting
Defendant's Motion to one for summary judgment. See
Richardson v. Cigna Corp., No. CIV-10-1238-D, 2011 WL
2443684, at *2 (W.D. Okla. June 14, 2011) (unreported
opinion) (“Where documents are central to a plaintiffs
claims, they may be properly considered in connection with a
motion to dismiss, and conversion to summary judgment is not
required.”) (citing Jacobsen v. Deseret Book
Co., 287 F.3d 936, 941 (10th Cir. 2002)).
Accordingly, the Court will consider Defendant's Motion
under the standards applicable to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
summarize, Plaintiffs Complaint alleges the
. Plaintiff is the only clinical laboratory
in the United States that provides specialized laboratory
testing services designed to identify the presence of certain
types of gynecological and sexually transmitted diseases and
disorders in female patients, including (1) a test designed
to determine whether a patient has Gonorrhea and if so,
whether the patient's particular strain of the disease is
resistant to certain antibiotic drugs, (2) unique reflex
antibiotic resistance and susceptibility testing of
Trichomonas Vaginalis, the most prevalent curable
sexually transmitted disease in the world, and (3) unique
diagnostic and treatment options for Bacterial
Vaginosis, the imbalance of vaginal microflora;
. Defendant maintains a network of healthcare providers with
whom it enters into provider agreements allowing Defendant to
pay discounted rates for services provided to patients
insured through Defendant's plan. In this way, Defendant
controls approximately 61% of the private health care market
in Oklahoma and currently does not consider Plaintiff a
preferred in-network laboratory;
. Based upon their experiences using Plaintiffs unique
testing services, Providers recently wrote Recommendation
Letters to ...