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Big Cat Rescue Corp. v. G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Foundation

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

September 11, 2017

BIG CAT RESCUE CORP., Plaintiff,
v.
G.W. EXOTIC ANIMAL MEMORIAL FOUNDATION and THE GAROLD WAYNE INTERACTIVE ZOOLOGICAL FOUNDATION, Defendants, GREATER WYNNEWOOD EXOTIC ANIMAL PARK, LLC, Intervenor.

          ORDER

          VICKI MILES-LaGRANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Big Cat Rescue Corp.'s (“Big Cat Rescue”) Motion to Dismiss Intervenor's Complaint and Brief in Support, filed January 17, 2017. On February 10, 2017, Intervenor Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, LLC (“Greater Wynnewood”) responded, and on February 21, 2017, Big Cat Rescue replied. Based on the parties' submissions, the Court makes its determination.

         I. Introduction[1]

         In February of 2013, Big Cat Rescue obtained civil consent judgments against defendant G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Foundation (“G.W. Zoo”) in the amount of $1, 028, 000.00. On April 15, 2014, Big Cat Rescue filed this instant action alleging fraudulent transfer, successor liability/corporate alter ego, and individual liability against defendants the G.W. Zoo and the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Foundation (“Garold Wayne Zoo”).[2] On February 1, 2016, an Agreed Judgment and Injunction was entered against the G.W. Zoo and the Garold Wayne Zoo, finding that Garold Wayne Zoo was liable to Big Cat Rescue as a successor to G.W. Zoo. Judgment was entered against the G.W. Zoo and the Garold Wayne Zoo for $1, 028, 000.00.

         On February 8, 2016, the Garold Wayne Zoo ceased operations of its zoo. On February 15, 2016, Greater Wynnewood opened its zoo. On March 4, 2016, Big Cat Rescue filed a Motion for Immediate Appointment of a Receiver to Take Charge of the Revenue and Receipts of the Garold Wayne Zoo. (“Motion for Receiver”). On March 10, 2016, Big Cat Rescue filed its Supplemental Motion for Appointment of Receiver (“Supplemental Motion”), requesting the Court appoint a receiver over Greater Wynnewood, without notice to Greater Wynnewood. On March 14, 2016, the Court entered an ex parte order appointing a receiver over Greater Wynnewood.

         Further, from February of 2016 to the present, Greater Wynnewood has entered into several confidentiality agreements with its employee/volunteers which preclude the employee/volunteers from disclosing or divulging trade secrets, confidential information or other proprietary data of Greater Wynnewood to others, including groups like Big Cat Rescue. On or about October 16, 2016, Big Cat Rescue started communicating with at least one of Greater Wynnewood's employees, Steven Travis Horn (“Horn”), and coerced Horn to disclose trade secrets, confidential information and other proprietary data to Big Cat Rescue in breach of his Employee/Volunteer Confidentiality Agreement with Greater Wynnewood.

         On December 16, 2016, Greater Wynnewood intervened in this action and filed its Complaint against Big Cat Rescue seeking a declaratory judgment and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and alleging the following claims: (1) wrongful receivership; (2) abuse of process; and (3) tortious interference. Big Cat Rescue now moves this Court to dismiss Greater Wynnewood's Complaint, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         II. Standard for Dismissal

         Regarding the standard for determining whether to dismiss a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the United States Supreme Court has held:

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. 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. 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. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). Further, “where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679 (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         Additionally, “[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s] devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. at 678 (internal quotations and citations omitted). “While the 12(b)(6) standard does not require that Plaintiff establish a prima facie case in her complaint, the elements of each alleged cause of action help to determine whether Plaintiff has set forth a plausible claim.” Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1192 (10th Cir. 2012). Finally, “[a] court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint presumes all of plaintiff's factual allegations are true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991).

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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