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Donald Huang v. Armand Behpour; Gc Pacific

August 2, 2012

DONALD HUANG
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ARMAND BEHPOUR; GC PACIFIC, INC.; QUEEN EMMA REGENCY, LLC; COTTAGE CAPITAL, LLC; JOHN DOE DEFENDANTS 1-10; JANE DOE DEFENDANTS 1-10; ROE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; AND ROE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES 1-10 DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway Chief United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL OF FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION.

On July 22, 2011, Plaintiff Donald Huang filed the original Complaint in this matter. See ECF No. 1. On April 19, 2012, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint. See ECF No. 42. The First Amended Complaint asserts claims for copyright infringement and a series of state law claims arising out of a business transaction pertaining to a property in downtown Honolulu.

On May 30, 2012, Huang filed a motion to dismiss his First Amended Complaint. See ECF No. 52. Huang argues that dismissal is appropriate because he has recently learned that Defendants were not actually infringing on his copyrighted plans. Huang says that, on or about April 24, 2012, Defendants sent him a settlement communication that indicated that Defendants had not used and did not plan on using Huang's plans. Because Huang attached a copy of this settlement communication in support of his motion, see ECF No. 52-3, Defendants have moved to strike the letter and expunge it from the record. See ECF No. 57. Rather than strike the exhibit and expunge it from the record, the court, recognizing a compelling need to protect settlement offers, directs the Clerk of Court to immediately seal the settlement communication.*fn1

The court grants Huang's motion to voluntarily dismiss the First Amended Complaint.

II. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Huang claims to be an architectural designer who copyrighted a business and architectural plan that was supposed to transform a downtown building into housing for elderly residents with care facilities. See First Amended Complaint ¶¶ 3, 9, 10, 27. Huang alleges that Defendants promised that he would be treated like a partner in the project. Id. ¶¶ 20-21. Huang alleges that Defendants have been using his plans without compensating him. Id. ¶ 24.

On April 24, 2012, Defendants notified Huang that they were not using and were not planning on using his design, and that, in any event, the Department of Planning and Permitting had not approved Defendants' plans for a group living facility. See ECF No. 52-3. Huang says that, in light of the letter, he no longer believes he has a claim for copyright infringement. Huang says that he now only has state-law claims and therefore seeks voluntary dismissal of the First Amended Complaint. He has already filed an action in state court asserting his state-law claims.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Rule 12(h)(3) is Inapplicable.

Huang seeks dismissal of the First Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(h)(3), which allows this court to dismiss an action whenever the court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The court, however, does not lack subject matter jurisdiction. The First Amended Complaint asserts a copyright claim for which this court has exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1338(a). Whether the claim is supported by facts goes to the merits of the claim, not to whether this court has subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, Rule 12(h)(3) is inapplicable.

B. The Court Applies Rule 41(a)(2).

Because Huang is seeking to voluntarily dismiss his own First Amended Complaint, the court construes his motion as one under Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which states that "an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper." Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2).

A Rule 41(a)(2) motion is addressed to the court's "sound discretion." Westlands Water Dist. v. United States, 100 F.3d 94, 97 (9th Cir. 1996). "A district court should grant a motion for voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) unless a defendant can show that it will suffer some plain legal prejudice as a result." Smith v. Lenches, 263 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2001)). "Legal prejudice does not result merely because a defendant will be inconvenienced by potentially having to defend the action in a different forum or because the dispute will remain unresolved." WPP Luxembourg Gamma Three Sarl v. Spot Runner, Inc., 655 F.3d 1030, 1059 n.6 (9th Cir. 2011). Expenses incurred in defending a lawsuit also do not amount to ...


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