United States District Court, D. Kansas
Charles C. Steincamp, Molly M. Gordon, Nathan R. Hoffman, Randall K. Rathbun, Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer, LC, Wichita, KS, for Plaintiffs.
David P. Calvert, David P. Calvert, PA, Michael J. Norton, Foulston Siefkin LLP, Brett D. Legvold, Greg A. Drumright, Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer, LLP, Wichita, KS, for Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. THOMAS MARTEN, District Judge.
The court has before it several motions to dismiss by the defendants. Defendants United Agricultural Cooperative, Inc., f/k/a/ Farmers Cooperative of El Campo, and Eagle Lake General Store (incorrectly sued as " Eagle Creek General Store" ) (collectively referred to herein as " defendants" or " United Ag" ), filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue (Dkt. 16) as well as a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (Dkt. 19). Defendant H Bar also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue (Dkt. 21), which defendant Carl " Bunge" Halla incorporated in his own motion to dismiss (Dkt. 23). The court grants all of the defendants' motions to dismiss for the reasons below.
I. Factual Background
Plaintiffs Anna Graves Vestring and Robert Vestring are Kansas residents who claim to have entered into a contract in September 2011 with defendant Carl " Bunge" Halla, a Texas resident and employee of defendant United Ag. Plaintiffs were in Kansas when they accepted Halla's offer over the phone. Under the contract, Halla agreed to provide agricultural services and serve as a bailee for certain lightweight cattle purchased by plaintiffs. All of the cattle were bought in Texas.
After the cattle were purchased, they were sheltered at facilities owned and operated by H Bar Cattle Company in Texas. At the H Bar facilities, the cattle suffered a death rate of 25%, which plaintiffs claim is significantly higher than the industry average. Plaintiffs allege that Halla and H Bar caused them damage by breaching the duty to properly care for, feed, and maintain the cattle in a reasonable and workmanlike manner. Plaintiffs ask this court to hold Halla and H Bar jointly and severally liable for damages in excess of $75,000 and to order recoupment of all plaintiffs' payments.
Additionally, to pay for the services associated with the purchase and care of these cattle, plaintiffs obtained a $350,000 line of credit from the Cooperative Finance Association, Inc., a corporation located in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Vestring completed, signed, and faxed an application to United Ag for an account to acquire goods on store credit. United Ag set up a store account for Mr. Vestring. Plaintiffs instructed Bunge not to incur expenses exceeding $350,000 in caring for, feeding, and maintaining the cattle. Plaintiffs claim that notwithstanding their instruction, Bunge had defendants H Bar, Eagle Lake, Farmers Cooperative, and United Ag bill plaintiffs for a total substantially in excess of the line of credit for services, materials, and supplies for the cattle. Plaintiff asks this court to enter judgment against defendants for (1) an accounting of all amounts claimed to arise out of the care, feeding, and maintenance of the cattle and (2) an accounting of cattle purchased and sold including all cattle which died while in defendants' care and control.
Defendant United Ag challenges the sufficiency of the pleadings set forth in the complaint. All defendants challenge whether Kansas has personal jurisdiction over them and whether venue is proper. Alternatively, they request the case be transferred to the Southern District of Texas.
II. Failure to State a Claim
A. Legal Standard
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) provides that a complaint must contain " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The complaint must give the defendant adequate notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds of that claim. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002).
" In reviewing a motion to dismiss, this court must look for plausibility in the complaint.... Under this standard, a complaint must include enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face."
Corder v. Lewis Palmer Sch. Dist. No. 38, 566 F.3d 1219, 1223-24 (10th Cir.2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). In addition to the allegations contained in the complaint, the court may consider attached exhibits and documents incorporated into the complaint, so long as the parties do not dispute the documents' authenticity. See Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir.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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (clarifying and affirming Twombly's probability standard). Allegations that raise the specter of mere speculation are not enough. Corder, 566 F.3d at 1223-24.
While the factual allegations need not be detailed, the claims " must set forth the grounds for plaintiffs' entitlement to relief through more than labels, conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." In re Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practices Litig., 534 F.Supp.2d 1214, 1216 (D.Kan.2008). The court must assume that all allegations in the complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 589, 127 S.Ct. 1955. " The issue in resolving a motion such as this is ‘ not whether [the] plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to ...