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Shiels v. Orange Lake Country Club, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

July 24, 2019





         Before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. 7). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On or about March 10, 2015, Plaintiffs purchased a timeshare program from Defendant pursuant to a written contract. (Doc. 1-1, at 3.) The instant case arises out of the “solicitation, negotiation, sale, administration[, ] and financing” of that timeshare program. (Id.) Specifically, Plaintiffs allege, inter alia, that they were “the unfortunate target[s] of a well-orchestrated scheme designed to induce them to enter into an ill-fated contract, and to invest in a seemingly never-ending obligation of high interest loan payments, assessments and/or maintenance fees, and in return for which they received nothing more than a deed to an essentially worthless timeshare estate.” (Id. at 6.)

         On March 11, 2019, Plaintiffs initiated this action in the Circuit Court for Sevier County, Tennessee. (Doc. 1-1.) On May 14, 2019, Defendant removed the action to this Court. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs assert claims against Defendant for: (1) “intentional misrepresentation (fraud)/promissory fraud/fraudulent concealment/negligent misrepresentation”; (2) violation of the Tennessee Time-Share Act of 1981, Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-32-101 et seq.; (3) breach of contract; and (4) unjust enrichment. (Doc. 1-1, at 8-11.) Plaintiffs also seek rescission of the timeshare sale and any contract between the parties and return of any funds paid by Plaintiffs. (Id. at 13.) On June 20, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 7), and this motion is now ripe for the Court's review.[1]


         According to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff's complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Though the statement need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain “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 (2009). Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id.

         A defendant may obtain dismissal of a claim that fails to satisfy Rule 8 by filing a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). This includes claims that are barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Watson v. Rentenbach Eng'g, No. 3:09-CV-150, 2009 WL 3784960, at *2 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 10, 2009). On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court considers not whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether the facts permit the court to infer “more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. For purposes of this determination, the Court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and assumes the veracity of all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint. Thurman v. Pfizer, Inc., 484 F.3d 855, 859 (6th Cir. 2007). This assumption of veracity, however, does not extend to bare assertions of legal conclusions, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, nor is the Court “bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

         After sorting the factual allegations from the legal conclusions, the Court next considers whether the factual allegations, if true, would support a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief. Thurman, 484 F.3d at 859. This factual matter must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Plausibility “is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(c)(1), and a plaintiff is not required to plead the absence of affirmative defenses to state a valid claim. Cataldo v. U.S. Steel Corp., 676 F.3d 542, 547 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007)). However, if the allegations of the complaint affirmatively show that the claim is time-barred, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate. Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against it, arguing that the claims are time-barred. (Doc. 7.) In determining whether the statute of limitations bars a particular claim, “a court must identify the gravamen of each claim alleged to determine the applicable statute of limitations.” Benz-Elliott v. Barrett Enterprises, LP, 456 S.W.3d 140, 141 (Tenn. 2015). Counts I and II of Plaintiffs' complaint generally allege that Plaintiffs were induced to enter into a contract with ...

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