United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the
following reasons, the motion is DENIED.
Orleans jazz musician accuses an internationally famous
hip-hop duo of copyright infringement of eleven original
songs. This litigation followed.
Batiste is a member of The Batiste Brothers Band, a New
Orleans jazz band founded in 1976. Batiste also owns Artang
Publishing LLC. Beginning in 1997 through 2002, Batiste
composed several original songs, entitled Hip Jazz, Kids,
Starlite Pt. 1, World of Blues, Love Horizon, Tone Palette,
My Bad, Salsa 4 Elise (Fur Elise), Drowning in my Blues,
Sportsman's Paradise, and Move That Body. Batiste has
registered each song with the United States Copyright Office.
Lewis and Ben Haggerty form the hip-hop duo known as
“Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.” The duo has achieved
international stardom, and is best known for their singles
“Thrift Shop” and “Can't Hold Us,
” which were both one of the most popular songs in the
United States and Australia after their releases in 2012 and
2016. They also received several Grammy awards,
including those for best new artist, best album, and best rap
performance for their single, Thrift Shop.
1, 2017, Batiste sued Ryan Lewis and Ben Haggerty for
infringing on his copyrights by using unauthorized samples
and copying elements of the eleven original songs listed
above in the composition of their songs Thrift Shop,
Can't Hold Us, Need to Know, Same Love, and Neon
Cathedral. Batiste also sued Andrew Joslyn and Allen Stone,
who are credited with writing the hip hop songs, and the
publishing companies who own rights to the compositions,
including Macklemore Publishing, Ryan Lewis Publishing,
Macklemore LLC, DB Joslyn Music, and Stickystones Publishing.
The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on September
11, 2017, but ultimately withdrew that motion after the
plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The defendants then
moved to dismiss the amended complaint on November 15, 2017,
but again voluntarily dismissed it after the plaintiff was
granted leave to file a second amended complaint on January
19, 2018. The defendants filed this motion to dismiss the
second amended complaint on February 20, 2018.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a
party to move for dismissal of a complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Such a motion
is rarely granted because it is viewed with disfavor. See
Lowrey v. Tex. A & M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247
(5th Cir. 1997)(quoting Kaiser Aluminum & Chem.
Sales, Inc. v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 677 F.2d 1045,
1050 (5th Cir. 1982)).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678-79 (2009)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8). "[T]he pleading
standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed
factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an
accusation." Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court
“accept[s] all well-pleaded facts as true and view[s]
all facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” See Thompson v. City of Waco,
Texas, 764 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Doe
ex rel. Magee v. Covington Cnty. Sch. Dist. ex rel.
Keys, 675 F.3d 849, 854 (5th Cir. 2012)(en banc)). But,
in deciding whether dismissal is warranted, the Court will
not accept as true legal conclusions. Id. at 502-03
(citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
survive dismissal, “‘a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir.
2009)(quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678)(internal
quotation marks omitted). “Factual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the
complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations and footnote
omitted). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (“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.”). The Court's task “is to
determine whether the plaintiff stated a legally cognizable
claim that is plausible, not to evaluate the plaintiff's
likelihood of success.” Thompson v. City of Waco,
Texas, 764 F.3d 500, 503 (5th Cir. 2014)(citation
omitted). This is a “context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. “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.” I ...