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Makransky v. Doto

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 27, 2017

DAVID DOTO, et al., Defendants.


         Presently before the court is defendants David Doto and Jenna Wells-Doto's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 18) plaintiff John Makransky's first amended complaint (ECF No. 17). Plaintiff has filed a response (ECF No. 19), and defendants have filed a reply (ECF No. 20).

         I. Background

         The instant dispute involves allegations that Mr. Doto and his wife, Mrs. Wells-Doto, (hereinafter collectively referred to as “the Dotos”) failed to repay a $171, 700 loan to Mr. Makransky. (ECF No. 17 at 6). In September 2013, Mr. Doto allegedly approached Mr. Makransky, with authority from Mrs. Wells-Doto, to request a loan on both defendants' behalf. (Id. at 2). Plaintiff maintains that Mr. Doto claimed he and his wife were having “severe financial difficulties” and had “no money to live on.” (Id.). Allegedly, the parties agreed to a $5, 000 per month loan, holding the Dotos jointly liable for repayment as they would collectively share its use and benefit. (Id. at 2-3). Mr. Makransky claims that the terms of the loan also included reimbursement for his tax liability stemming from a premature withdrawal of funds from his individual retirement account to fund the loan. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff contends that on October 14, 2013, the Dotos filed for divorce and that, soon after their divorce, they requested an increase in the loan installments to $9, 000 per month. (Id.).

         As alleged, the loan installments lasted from October 2013 through April 2015. (Id.). Plaintiff maintains that, throughout this period, Mr. Doto had regular communication with Mr. Makransky; each month he asked for money and updated Mr. Makransky on the Dotos' financial status. (Id.). On October 23, 2013, Mr. Doto allegedly wrote to Mr. Makransky, “[a]s I told you my gratitude - our gratitude - cannot be adequately expressed, ” and on July 9, 2014, Mr. Doto supposedly told Mr. Makransky, “[Mrs. Wells-Doto] will graduate from paralegal school in October and . . . [t]hat should begin to pay off . . . .” (Id. at 4). Plaintiff contends that by April 2015, Mr. Makransky stopped granting monthly installments on the loan and began demanding repayment from the Dotos within a reasonable time. (Id. at 7).

         Plaintiff contends that the Dotos began making monthly payments on the loan beginning October 9, 2015. (Id.) Allegedly, the Dotos repaid $200-$300 on the loan each month, and these loan payments were drawn from the Dotos' joint bank account at Nevada State Bank. (Id. at 8). Mr. Makransky claims he requested that the Dotos substantially increase their payments on the loan because their payments were unreasonably small. (Id. at 8-9). In response, Mr. Doto allegedly stated he was unable to repay the loan at an increased rate, and that he could not “tap into [Mrs. Wells-Doto]'s money” because “[t]hat money isn't mine and [Mrs. Wells-Doto] needs that . . . .” (Id. at 8.)

         Mr. Makransky's first amended complaint alleges six claims, each against both defendants: (1) breach of contract; (2) breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing; (3) money had and received; (4) quantum meruit; (5) fraudulent transfers; and (6) fraud and conspiracy to defraud. (ECF No. 17) Defendants' motion to dismiss seeks to dismiss counts one through four against Mrs. Wells-Doto, and counts five and six in their entirety. (ECF No. 18)

         II. Legal Standard

         a. Motion to dismiss

         The court may dismiss a plaintiff's complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide “[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it does require more than labels and conclusions. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Furthermore, a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not suffice. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009) (citation omitted). Rule 8 does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Id. at 678-79.

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. When a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, and shows only a mere possibility of entitlement, the complaint does not meet the requirements to show plausibility of entitlement to relief. Id.

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering a motion to dismiss. Id. First, the court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint. However, this requirement is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Id. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Id. at 678. Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has “alleged - but not shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. at 679. When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, plaintiff's claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         The Ninth Circuit addressed post-Iqbal pleading standards in Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The Starr court held:

First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.


         b. ...

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