United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON MOTION TO DISMISS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant FCA U.S.
LLC (“FCA”), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff Lewis Gene Freeman, pro
se, (“Freeman”) filed a Complaint against
FCA, alleging breach of contract and patent infringement.
(Filing No. 1.) FCA now seeks to dismiss Freeman's
Complaint for failure to state a claim. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS FCA's
Motion to Dismiss. (Filing No. 23.)
following facts derived from Freeman's Complaint and the
exhibits attached thereto, are not necessarily objectively
true; but, as required when reviewing a motion to dismiss,
the Court accepts as true all factual allegations in the
Complaint and draws all inferences in favor of Freeman.
See Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d 632, 633
(7th Cir. 2008).
worked at Chrysler Corporation, Kokomo Die Casting Plant
(“Chrysler”) for thirty-two years as a salary
tool and process engineer, before retiring in 1991. During
that time period, Freeman patented thirty-three inventions
including, a die cast vacuum valve system, filters, as well
as vent and filter blocks to be used on Chrysler vehicles. On
July 8, 1994, Freeman entered into a licensing agreement with
Chrysler, effective May 1, 1994, regarding the die cast
vacuum valve system, the filter, as well as Freeman's
vent and filter block patents (“the Agreement”).
(Filing No. 1-1 at 2-6.) Freeman and Chrysler amended the
Agreement once, on July 17, 1995, to include additional
inventions, but they did not make any substantive changes
regarding the duties of the parties. Id. at 1.
the years, Chrysler went through various changes, including a
bankruptcy, and in 2009, FCA acquired Chrysler's assets
and became the assignee of the Agreement. At some point after
FCA acquired Chrysler, Freeman learned that FCA hired outside
vendors to produce a certain vehicle component for FCA, known
as a casting. On July 2, 2015, Freeman sent a letter to the
CEO of FCA, Sergio Marchionne, requesting royalty payments
for each casting produced by outside vendors that used
Freeman's patents. (Filing No. 1-6.) FCA refused to make
royalty payments and informed Freeman that it has been, and
continues to be, in compliance with the terms of the
Agreement. (Filing No. 1-7.)
November 16, 2015, Freeman filed a Complaint seeking money
damages, asserting that FCA breached the Agreement by
utilizing outside vendors to manufacture castings that
included Freeman's patents. (Filing No. 1.) The Complaint
also alleges that FCA breached the Agreement by failing to
seek legal remedies on Freeman's behalf against those who
infringed upon his patents. Id. Freeman is
proceeding in forma pauperis (“IFP”)
(Filing No. 9). FCA now seeks to dismiss Freeman's
Complaint, arguing that the Agreement permits FCA to contract
with outside vendors to make products for FCA. (Filing No.
23.) FCA also argues that the Agreement does not mandate it
to enforce Freeman's patents. Id.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a defendant to
move to dismiss a complaint that fails to “state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, accepts all factual allegations as true, and draws
all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir.
2008). However, courts “are not obliged to accept as
true legal conclusions or unsupported conclusions of
fact.” Hickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656,
658 (7th Cir. 2002).
complaint need not include detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff has the obligation to provide the factual grounds
supporting his entitlement to relief; and neither bare legal
conclusions nor a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will suffice in meeting this obligation.
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Stated differently, the complaint must include
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Hecker v. Deere &
Co., 556 F.3d 575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation and
quotation marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the
complaint must allow “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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally
construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However, the Court
[I]t is also well established that pro se litigants are not
excused from compliance with procedural rules. [T]he Supreme
Court has never suggested that procedural rules in ordinary
civil litigation should be interpreted so as to excuse
mistakes by those who proceed without counsel[.] Further, as
the Supreme Court has noted, in the long run, experience
teaches that strict adherence to the procedural requirements
specified by the legislature is the best guarantee of
evenhanded administration of the law.
Loubser v. United States, 606 F.Supp.2d 897, 909
(N.D. Ind. 2009) (citations and quotation ...