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Texas Roadhouse, Inc. v. Texas Corral Restaurants, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 31, 2017

TEXAS ROADHOUSE, INC., and TEXAS ROADHOUSE DELAWARE, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
TEXAS CORRAL RESTAURANTS, INC., TEXCOR, INC., TEXAS CORRAL RESTAURANT II, INC., T.C. OF MICHIGAN CITY, INC., T.C. OF KALAMAZOO, INC., CHICAGO ROADHOUSE CONCEPTS, LLC, T.C. OF OAK LAWN, INC., T.C. OF HARWOOD HEIGHTS, INC., TEXAS CORRAL INCORPORATED., MARTINSVILLE CORRAL, INC., and PAUL SWITZER, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Texas Roadhouse Plaintiffs claim the Texas Corral Defendants infringe on Plaintiffs' trade dress and trademarks, and engage in unfair competition.

         Defendant Paul Switzer moves under Rule 12(b)(6) for dismissal of the federal trade dress infringement claim (Count I) and the federal trademark infringement claim (Count II) for failure to state a claim under the Lanham Act for personal liability. Mr. Switzer also moves for dismissal of the state claims against him for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction following dismissal of the federal claims.[1] Finally, Mr. Switzer moves for dismissal of Counts III, IV, and IX on the basis of various statutes of limitations.

         A. Standard for evaluating a motion to dismiss

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim is to test the sufficiency of the pleadings, not to decide the merits of the case. See Gibson v. Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). Rule 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." However, "recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).[2]

         As the Supreme Court stated, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Id. Rather, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). A complaint is facially plausible if a court can reasonably infer from factual content in the pleading that the defendant is liable for the alleged wrongdoing. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         The Seventh Circuit synthesized the standard into three requirements. See Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009). "First, a plaintiff must provide notice to defendants of her claims. Second, courts must accept a plaintiffs factual allegations as true, but some factual allegations will be so sketchy or implausible that they fail to provide sufficient notice to defendants of the plaintiffs claim. Third, in considering the plaintiffs factual allegations, courts should not accept as adequate abstract recitations of the elements of a cause of action or conclusory legal statements." Id.

         B. Plaintiffs' second amended complaint

         Plaintiffs Texas Roadhouse, Inc., and Texas Roadhouse Delaware, LLC (collectively "Texas Roadhouse Plaintiffs") attempt to bring the same nine counts against each of 11 named Defendants (collectively "Texas Corral Defendants"). One of these Defendants is an individual: Paul Switzer.

         In the second amended complaint, the Texas Roadhouse Plaintiffs make the following claims.

Mr. Switzee entities owned or controlled by him, is the licensor to:
• all Texas Corral r owns:
• Texas Corral Restaurant II, Inc.; and
• T.C. of Kalamazoo, Inc. He is the president of:
• Texas Corral Restaurants, Inc.;
• Texcor, Inc. ("president-CEO");
• T.C. of Michigan City, Inc.;
• Chicago Roadhouse Concepts, ...

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