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CRST Expedited, Inc v. J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

March 15, 2018

CRST EXPEDITED, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          C.J. WILLIAMS, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. Background ...................................................................................... 2

         II. Applicable Law ................................................................................. 4

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim ......................................... 4

         B. Motion for a More Definite Statement ................................................... 5

         C. Venue .......................................................................................... 6

         III. Discussion ....................................................................................... 7

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim ......................................... 8

         B. Motion for a More Definite Statement .................................................. 13

         C. Venue ......................................................................................... 14

         IV. Conclusion ..................................................................................... 16

         This matter is before the Court on J.B. Hunt Transport's (“defendant”) Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for a More Definite Statement Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e), and to Dismiss for Lack of Proper Venue Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(3). (Doc. 8). CRST Expedited (“plaintiff”) filed its Complaint (“complaint”) against defendant (Doc. 2), and defendant timely filed the instant motion as its first responsive pleading. (Doc. 8). Plaintiff timely resisted the motion (Doc. 12), and defendant timely filed a reply. (Doc. 15). For the following reasons, defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         Plaintiff alleges it is a trucking company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that provides “long-haul, expedited freight hauling services to its customers.” (Doc. 2, at 1-2). To facilitate its business, plaintiff alleges that it has established a driver training program wherein plaintiff incurs substantial expense in training individuals to become licensed truck drivers. (Id., at 2). In return, plaintiff alleges that the participants of the program agree to a specific employment term with plaintiff, during which time the participants may not provide truck driving services to any of plaintiff's competitors. (Id., at 2-3).

         Plaintiff further alleges that defendant is a transportation and logistics company based in Arkansas that does not operate a driver training program and is incorporated under the laws of the State of Georgia, but is authorized to do business in Iowa and maintains offices in the State of Iowa. (Id., at 1, 4). Further, plaintiff states that defendant “actively recruits drivers nationwide, including the State of Iowa.” (Id., at 4).

         In 2004, plaintiff sued defendant in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma because defendant allegedly solicited and hired plaintiff's drivers, causing those drivers to breach their employment contracts with plaintiff. (Id.). That case ultimately settled and, as a condition of the settlement agreement, defendant allegedly “agreed that it would not solicit or hire any CRST driver” during the restrictive period of the driver's employment contract. (Id.). Plaintiff claims, however, that since September 2015, when the settlement agreement expired, defendant “has actively recruited CRST drivers who were within” the restrictive periods of their contracts. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that the previous litigation in the Western District of Oklahoma vested defendant with “knowledge both of the existence of the Employment Contract and its terms, including CRST's investment in its Driver Training Program.” (Id., at 5).

         Plaintiff claims that in complying with Department of Transportation regulations requiring trucking companies to verify employment history prior to hiring drivers, defendant became aware that certain individuals it hired were still within the exclusivity period with plaintiff. (Id., at 5). Specifically, upon receipt of an employment verification request from defendant, plaintiff contends that it would send a letter to defendant stating that the individual that defendant was recruiting was still within the exclusivity period and that plaintiff was not releasing the individual from his or her contract with plaintiff. (Id.). Plaintiff, however, contends that defendant hired the subject individuals in spite of this notification. (Id.). As a result, plaintiff contends that it suffered damages, continues to suffer damages, and that defendant has been unjustly enriched by being permitted to benefit from plaintiff's driver training program.

         Plaintiff brought a four-count complaint alleging: 1) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; 2) unjust enrichment; 3) intentional interference with contract; and 4) requesting permanent injunctive relief. (Doc. 2). In response, defendant brought a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e), and to dismiss for lack of venue under Rule 12(b)(3). (Doc. 8). With respect to defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion, defendant alleges specific arguments for dismissal of the intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional interference with contract claims, and brings an overarching argument for dismissal of the complaint in its entirety. (Doc. 8-2).

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         A. Motion to Dismiss for Failure to ...


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