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Casterlow-Bey v. Amazon.Com

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

March 19, 2018

GARY CASTERLOW-BEY, Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON.COM; GOOGLE.COM; INC., BARNES AND NOBLES.COM; EBAY.COM; and TRAFFORD PUBLISHING COMPANY, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          ROBERT J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant eBay, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 27), Defendant Barnes and Noble, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 29), Defendant Trafford Publishing Company's (“Trafford”) Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 30), Defendant Amazon.com Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 31), and Defendant Google, LLC's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 32). The Court has considered the motions and the remainder of the record herein.

         This case arises from the Defendants' alleged sale of Plaintiff's books. Dkt. 5. Defendants now move for dismissal of the claims asserted against them pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12. Dkts. 27 and 29-32. For the reasons provided below, their motions should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. BACKGROUND FACTS

         On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff, at the time a prisoner in the Pierce County, Washington Jail, filed this case pro se, moved to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), and provided a proposed complaint asserting that the Defendants infringed on the copyrights he has on his books and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962, (“RICO”). Dkts. 1 and 5. He also makes reference to fraud. Id. Plaintiff seeks several million dollars in damages. Id. This is one of several cases the Plaintiff has filed regarding his books. Casterlow-Bey v. Trafford Publishing Company, Western District of Washington case number 17-5459-RJB; Casterlow-Bey v. Google.com, Inc., Western District of Washington case number 17-5686 RJB Casterlow-Bey v. Ebay.com, Western District of Washington case number 17-5687 RJB; Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5834; and Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5871.

         According to the Complaint in this case, Plaintiff authored three books: Through the Eyes of a Gangster, Through the Eyes of a Gangster II, and Wildflower - An Urban Tale that were “published through Trafford.” Dkt. 5, at 4. In this Complaint, Plaintiff asserts that Trafford “has a forged, fraudulent contract” for Wildflower - An Urban Tale, “signed by some unknown person, with non-existent address . . . with a phone number Plaintiff has never had.” Id. He maintains that this “bogus, illegal contract authorizes international sales of all three books.” Id. The Plaintiff alleges that all of the books' copyrights belong to him, and the “theft, unlawful distribution of all three of these copyrighted materials, done nationally and internationally by Defendants in a continuous ‘covert operation' designed to deprive Plaintiff of the royalties from sales of all three books since 2006.” Id. The Plaintiff alleges that he has “proof of numerous sales from Defendants' websites.” Id., at 5.

         B. PLAINTIFF'S OTHER CASES RELATED TO THE SALE OF HIS BOOKS

         On June 14, 2017, Plaintiff, while a prisoner in the Pierce County, Washington Jail, proceeding IFP, filed a breach of contract case against Trafford, who he alleges failed to pay him royalties on the three books that he wrote. Casterlow-Bey v. Trafford Publishing Company, Western District of Washington case number 17-5459-RJB; Dkt. 7. An Answer to the Complaint (Dkt. 28) was filed for Trafford, and the parties are engaging in discovery (Dkt. 46).

         On August 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed another case against Defendants Amazon and Google asserting they committed copyright infringement when Plaintiff's books were sold on their website. Casterlow-Bey v. Google.com, Inc., Western District of Washington case number 17-5686 RJB, Dkt. 1-1. On January 18, 2018, Defendants Amazon and Google's motions to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 were granted and the case was dismissed with prejudice. Casterlow-Bey v. Google.com, Inc., Western District of Washington case number 17-5686 RJB, Dkt. 27.

         On August 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a case against Ebay.com, asserting that Ebay.com committed copyright infringement, breached a contract, and committed fraud when it sold Plaintiff's books. Casterlow-Bey v. Ebay.com, Western District of Washington case number 17-5687 RJB, Dkt. 1-1. Plaintiff sought injunctive relief and several million dollars in damages in that case. Id. Ebay.com moved to dismiss the claims asserted against it, in part, based on Plaintiff's failure to show that his books are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office; the motion was granted and the case was dismissed with prejudice on January 8, 2018. Casterlow-Bey v. Ebay.com, Western District of Washington case number 17-5687 RJB, Dkt. 25.

         On October 13, 2017, (the same day the instant case was filed) Plaintiff also filed a case against “Barnes and Nobles, ” moved for IFP, and provided a proposed complaint asserting that Defendant “Barnes and Nobles” committed copyright infringement, breached a contract, and committed fraud when it sold Plaintiff's books. Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5834, Dkts. 1 and 1-1. Plaintiff also makes reference to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962, (“RICO”). Id. Plaintiff sought several million dollars in damages. Id. Barnes and Noble's motion to dismiss was granted, Plaintiff's claims have been dismissed and the case is closed. Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5834, Dkt. 20.

         On October 25, 2017, Plaintiff filed Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5871, moved for IFP, and provided a proposed complaint again asserting that Defendant “Barnes and Nobles” committed copyright infringement, breached a contract, and committed fraud when it sold Plaintiff's books. Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5871, Dkts. 1 and 1-1. Plaintiff again made reference to RICO violations. Id. Plaintiff sought injunctive relief and several million dollars in damages. Id. His motion for IFP was denied because the case was duplicative of the other cases he had already filed. Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5871, Dkt. 4. After being given an opportunity to pay the filing fee if he wished to continue with the case, the case was dismissed for failure to pay the filing fee. Casterlow-Bey v. Barnes and Nobles, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 17-5871, Dkt. 5.

         C. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Defendant eBay now moves to dismiss the claims asserted against it, arguing that (1) Plaintiff's claims are subject to dismissal for the same reasons set forth in this Court's order dismissing Casterlow-Bey v. Ebay.com, Western District of Washington case number 17-5687 RJB, Dkts. 21 and 25; (2) Plaintiff has again not sufficiently plead facts to support his RICO and fraud claims, and so they should be dismissed, and (3) Plaintiff's RICO claim is preempted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) 47 U.S.C. § 230. Dkt. 27.

         Defendants Amazon, Google, Barnes and Noble, and Trafford move to dismiss this case on the same, or similar, grounds. Dkts. 29-32.

         The Court issued a notice to Plaintiff, as a pro se litigant, regarding Defendants' motions to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b), and discussed Plaintiff's ...


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