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Viking Construction Group, LLC v. Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Group Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 12, 2018

VIKING CONSTRUCTION GROUP, LLC ET AL.
v.
SATTERFIELD & PONTIKES CONSTRUCTION GROUP INC. ET AL.

          SECTION I

          ORDER & REASONS

          LANCE M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is an uncontested motion[1] to dismiss filed by defendants Satterfield & Pontikes, LLC (“S&P, LLC”) and Satterfield and Pontikes, Inc. (“S&P, Inc.) (collectively “S&P”). For the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         I.

         The claims asserted in this case are rooted in the Louisiana Racketeering Act (“Louisiana RICO”). Plaintiffs allege that S&P formed an enterprise for the purpose of securing federally funded construction projects in Orleans Parish by submitting bids that members of the enterprise knew would be low enough to guarantee awarding of the contracts but insufficient to adequately and timely complete the work through subcontractors.[2] Plaintiffs assert that, after securing contracts, S&P would negotiate change orders so as to increase overall payments from the government while also defrauding subcontractors out of labor, materials, supplies, and funds.[3]Plaintiffs further contend that defendant CDW Services, LLC (“CDW”) participated in this enterprise by conspiring with S&P and by filing materially false public records.[4]

         Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in state court on October 27, 2017.[5] Defendants filed a timely notice of removal on November 20, 2017, asserting diversity jurisdiction.[6] Plaintiffs then filed a motion to remand on December 15, 2017, arguing that complete diversity does not exist.[7] On December 19, 2017, S&P filed the instant motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[8] On January 12, 2018, the Court denied plaintiffs' motion to remand and dismissed all claims against defendant CDW. The Court now turns to S&P's motion to dismiss, to which plaintiffs have not responded.

         II.

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit a district court to dismiss a complaint, or any part of it, when a plaintiff has not set forth well-pleaded factual allegations that would entitle him to relief. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Cuvillier v. Taylor, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 2007). A plaintiff's factual allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In other words, 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)).

         A facially plausible claim is one where “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. If the well-pleaded factual allegations “do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, ” then “the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)) (alteration in original).

         In assessing the complaint, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and liberally construe all such allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Spivey, 197 F.3d at 774; Lowrey v. Tex. A&M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247 (5th Cir. 1997). Where “the complaint ‘on its face show[s] a bar to relief, '” then dismissal is the appropriate course. Cutrer v. McMillan, 308 Fed. App'x. 819, 820 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Clark v. Amoco Prod. Co., 794 F.2d 967, 970 (5th Cir. 1986)).

         III.

         A.

         To state a valid civil claim under Louisiana RICO, a party must show that (1) a person engaged in (2) a pattern of racketeering activity (3) connected to the acquisition, establishment, conduct, or control of an enterprise.[9] Brown v. Protective Life Ins. Co., 353 F.3d 405, 407 (5th Cir. 2003). The term “pattern of racketeering activity” means

engaging in at least two incidents of racketeering activity that have the same or similar intents, results, principals, victims, or methods of commission or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated incidents, provided at least one of such incidents occurs after August 21, 1992, and that the last of such incidents occurs within five years after a prior incident of racketeering activity.

La. Rev. Stat. 15:1352(C). “Racketeering activity” means “committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or soliciting, coercing, or intimidating another person to commit any crime that is punishable under” one of 65 specified ...


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