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Dallakian v. IPG Photonics Corporation

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 7, 2014

Armen Dallakian, Plaintiff,
v.
IPG Photonics Corporation, Defendant,

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket No. 22)

TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, District Judge.

Background

Plaintiff, Armen Dallakian ("Dallakian") has filed suit against IPG Photonics Corporation ("IPG") for: (1) correction of the name of the inventors on U.S. Patent No. 8, 014, 641 ("641 Patent") pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §§ 115 and 116; (2) misappropriation of trade secrets under Massachusetts common law; (3) misappropriation of trade secrets under Mass.Gen.L ch. 93 §§ 42 and 42A: and (4) violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, Mass.Gen.L. ch. 93A §§ 2 and 11 (Chapter 93A) with respect to certain technology developed, patented and brought to market by IPG after Dallakian terminated his consulting relationship with IPG.

This Memorandum and Order addresses Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts II-IV of the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)((Docket No. 22). For the reasons, set forth below, that motion is denied.

Standard of Review

"To survive a motion to dismiss, 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). Plausibility "is not akin to a probability requirement, but [requires] more than a sheer possibility...." Id. Thus, "[a] pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id.

In this case, IPG seeks to dismiss Counts II-IV on the grounds that they are barred by the statute of limitations.

When the allegations in a complaint show that the passage of time between the events giving rise to the claim and the commencement of the action exceeds the applicable limitations period, a district court should grant a 12(b)(6) motion by the defense if the complaint (and any other properly considered documents) fails to "sketch a factual predicate" that would' provide a basis for tolling the statute of limitations.
In making such an assessment under Rule 12(b)(6), a district court engages in no fact finding. Rather, it presumes that the facts are as properly alleged by plaintiff[] and/or reflected in other properly considered records, with reasonable inferences drawn in plaintiff[s] favor.

Abdallah v. Bain Capital LLC, 13-2008, 2014 WL 2462555, *3 (1st Cir. June 3, 2014)(internal citations and citation to quoted case omitted).

Under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations period begins to run from the date "an event or events... that are reasonably likely to have put the plaintiff on notice that he has been harmed." Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary v. QLT Phototherapeutics, Inc., 412 F.3d 215, 241 (1st Cir.2005). Under this so-called "discovery rule, " the limitations period begins to run when "events occur or facts surface which would cause a reasonably prudent person to become aware that she or he had been harmed." Felton v. Labor Relations Com'n, 33 Mass.App.Ct. 926, 598 N.E.2d 687, 689 (1992); see also Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary v. QLT Phototherapeutics, Inc., 412 F.3d 215, 241 (1st Cir. 2005). "A plaintiff is considered to be on inquiry notice' when the first event occurs that would prompt a reasonable person to inquire into a possible injury at the hands of the defendant." Epstein v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 460 F.3d 183 (1st Cir. 2006). Finally, it is not necessary that the plaintiff know the full extent of his injuries, so long the event(s) or facts were sufficient to alert the plaintiff he had been harmed. Stark v. Advanced Magnetics, Inc., 50 Mass.App.Ct. 226, 233 (2000).

"[T]he question when a plaintiff knew or should have known of his cause of action is one of fact which in most instances will be decided by the trier of fact." Riley v. Presnell, 409 Mass. 239, 240, 565 N.E.2d 780 (1991). However, where "the facts are undisputed, the issue may be decided as a matter of law." Khatchatourian v. Encompass Ins. Co. of Mass., 78 Mass.App.Ct. 53, 57, 935 N.E.2d 777 (2010). Because the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense IPG, bears the initial burden of proof. Orbusneich Medical Co. Ltd. v. Boston Scientific Corp., Civ. Act. No. 09-10962-RGS, 2011 WL 1086015, at *2 (D.Mass. Mar. 21, 2011).

Discussion

IPG seeks to dismiss Counts II-IV of the Complaint on the grounds that they are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. In Massachusetts, tort actions are governed by a three year statute of limitations and claims arising under Chapter 93A have a statute of limitations of four years. See Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, §§ 2A, 5A; see also Stark v. Advanced Magnetics, Inc., 50 Mass.App.Ct. 226, 232 (2000)(misappropriation of trade secrets governed by three year statute of limitations). Therefore, Dallakian's claims for misappropriation of trade secrets (Counts II and III) must not have accrued prior to August ...


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