United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
KATHY KOCUREK, ET AL.
FRANK'S INTERNATIONAL, LLC, ET AL.
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE, UNITED STATESTFTSTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Gary Luquette's motion for
judgment on the pleadings. Record Document 12. For the
reasons discussed below, the motion [Record Document 12] is
DENIED and Plaintiffs are granted leave to amend the
complaint as requested within 21 days.
Le Chat Interiors alleges that it entered into a contract for
interior design services with Defendant Frank's
International, LLC (“Frank's” -- formerly
Frank's Casing Crew & Rental Tools, LLC). Record
Document 9, p. 3. Plaintiff Kathy Kocurek signed the
agreement as the President and CEO of Le Chat Interiors.
Id., pp. 2-3. Plaintiffs allege that the contract
was terminated by Luquette, “acting on behalf of and in
his capacity as President and CEO of Frank's
International, ” before the work had been completed and
without cause. Id., p. 4. Plaintiffs state that at
all relevant times “Luquette was in the course and
scope of his employment with Frank's, and was within the
authority granted to him by Frank's.” Id.
filed this suit alleging two causes of action: breach of
contract against Frank's and tortious interference with a
contractual relationship against Luquette. Id., pp.
4-6. Luquette moved for judgment on the pleadings on the
claim against him.
Standard of Review
12(c) permits a party to move for judgment on the pleadings.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “A motion brought pursuant to [Rule
12(c)] is designed to dispose of cases where the material
facts are not in dispute and a judgment on the merits can be
rendered by looking to the substance of the pleadings.”
Hebert Abstract Co. v. Touchstone Properties, Ltd.,
914 F.2d 74, 76 (5th Cir. 1990). Further, a party may raise a
defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted in a 12(c) motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(2)(B).
standard of review for a motion under Rule 12(c) is the same
as the standard of review for a motion under Rule 12(b)(6).
In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191,
205 (5th Cir. 2007). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss or a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings
a Plaintiff's complaint must “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "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. at 678. In determining whether the Plaintiff has
stated a plausible claim, the Court must construe the
complaint in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff,
see In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. LLC, 624
F.3d 201, 210 (5th Cir. 2010), and accept as true all of the
well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. See
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007);
In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191,
205 (5th Cir. 2009). However, "[t]hreadbare recitals of
the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678. Thus, the Court does not have to accept as
true "conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual
inferences, or legal conclusions." Plotkin v. IP
Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005).
Tortious Interference With A Contractual
interference with a contractual relationship is a recognized
tort in Louisiana. 9 to 5 Fashions, Inc. v. Spurney,
538 So.2d 228, 229 (La. 1989). An officer of a corporation
owes a duty to a third party not to interfere with a
contractual relationship between the corporation and the
third party, unless the officer has reasonable justification
for his conduct. Id. at 231. To successfully plead a
cause of action for tortious interference, Plaintiffs must
allege facts showing: (1) the existence of a contract between
Plaintiffs and the corporation, (2) that the corporate
officer knew about the contract, (3) that the officer
intentionally induced or caused the corporation to breach the
contract, or intentionally rendered performance impossible or
more burdensome, (4) the absence of justification for the
officer's actions, and (5) causation of damages to
Plaintiffs because of the breach. Id. at 234. With
regard to the fourth element, “[t]he officer's
action is justified...if he acted within the scope of his
corporate authority and in the reasonable belief that his
action was for the benefit of the corporation.”
Id. at 231. Therefore, in order to state a claim for
tortious interference against Luquette, Plaintiffs must plead
facts establishing that Luquette's actions were not
justified, either because Luquette was acting outside the
scope of his authority or because he was not acting in the
reasonable belief that his action was for the benefit of
Frank's. Plaintiffs have not met this burden.
first amended and restated complaint admits that Luquette
acted “in the course and scope of his employment with
Frank's” when he terminated the contract. Record
Document 9, p. 4. The complaint makes no allegation at all
that Luquette acted without a reasonable belief that his
action was in Frank's interests. Nor does the complaint
contain any factual allegations that would support such a
conclusion. In fact, the complaint admits that Luquette acted
“on behalf of and in his capacity as President and CEO
of Frank's” when he terminated Plaintiffs.
Id., p. 4. The complaint alleges no facts suggesting
how Luquette acted on behalf of Frank's while
simultaneously and intentionally acting against the
company's interests. Moreover, Frank's admitted in
its answer that Luquette acted in the company's interest.
Record Document 11, p. 8 (“any actions taken by Mr.
Luquette with respect to the ‘Letter of Engagement'
were performed in the course and scope of Mr. Luquette's
employment with Frank's and for the benefit of the
Plaintiffs argue for the first time in opposition to
Luquette's motion that Luquette was not acting to benefit
Frank's because the termination of the contract delayed
completion of the interior design work and made the work more
expensive for Frank's. Record Document 18, p. 5.
Plaintiffs are essentially attempting to read a new
allegation into the complaint. The Court must accept as true