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Tasini v AOL and Huffington Post

Tasini v AOL and Huffington Post

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Published by Doug Mataconis
Opinion dated March 30, 2012 in Tasini v. AOL & The Huffington Post
Opinion dated March 30, 2012 in Tasini v. AOL & The Huffington Post

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Published by: Doug Mataconis on Mar 31, 2012
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03/31/2012

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTSOUTHERN DISTRICT OFNEW YORK
  
JONATHAN TASINI,MOLLY SECOURS, TARA DUBLIN, RICHARD LAERMER and BILLY ALTMAN, individually and on behalfof all others similarly situated,Plaintiffs,-against- AOL, INC.,THEHUFFINGTONPOST.COM,INC., ARIANNA HUFFINGTON AND KENNETHLERER Defendants.
  
11 Civ. 2472 (JGK)OPINION AND ORDER JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge:
The plaintiffs,Jonathan Tasini(“Tasini”), Molly Secours(“Secours”), Tara Dublin(“Dublin”), Richard Laermer(“Laermer”), and Billy Altman(“Altman”), individually and onbehalf of all others similarly situated(collectively “theplaintiffs”), bring this proposedclassaction under the commonlaw doctrine of unjust enrichment and New York General BusinessLaw(“NYGBL”)§ 349. The plaintiffs have sued AOL,Inc.(“AOL”), TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc., Arianna Huffington(“Huffington”), and Kenneth Lerer (“Lerer”) (collectively “thedefendants),allegingthat thedefendantsunjustlyanddeceptivelydeniedthe plaintiffscompensation for submittingcontenttoand promoting content on The Huffington Post
Case 1:11-cv-02472-JGK Document 33 Filed 03/30/12 Page 1 of 24
 
2(www.thehuffingtonpost.com),
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a website owned and operated by thedefendants.The defendants move pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) ofthe Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the FirstAmended Class Action Complaint (“FAC”or “Complaint”) withprejudice.
I.
In deciding a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6),the allegations in the Complaint are accepted as true, and allreasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiffs' favor.McCarthy v. Dun & Bradstreet Corp.,482 F.3d 184, 191 (2d Cir.2007). The Court's function on a motion to dismiss is “not toweigh the evidencethat might be presented at a trial but merelyto determine whether the complaint itself is legallysufficient.Goldman v. Belden,754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir.1985). The Court should not dismiss the Complaint if theplaintiffs havestated “enough factsto state a claim to reliefthat is plausible on its face.”Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,550U.S. 544, 570 (2007).“A claim has facial plausibility when theplaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to drawthe reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for themisconduct alleged.Ashcroft v. Iqbal,129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949
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This Opinion will refer to TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. and TheHuffington Post website interchangeably as “The HuffingtonPost,”except as the context otherwise requires.
Case 1:11-cv-02472-JGK Document 33 Filed 03/30/12 Page 2 of 24
 
3(2009). While the Court should construe the factual allegationsin the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, “the tenet that acourt must accept as true all of the allegations contained inthecomplaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id.When presented with a motion todismiss pursuant to Rule12(b)(6), the Court may consider documents that are referencedin the Complaint, documents that the plaintiffs relied on inbringing suit and that are either in the plaintiffs’ possessionor that the plaintiffsknew of when bringing suit, or matters ofwhich judicial notice may be taken.SeeChambers v. TimeWarner, Inc.,282 F.3d 147, 153 & n.3 (2d Cir. 2000).
II.
The following facts alleged in the Complaint are acceptedas true for the purposes of this motion to dismiss, unlessotherwise indicated.The Huffington Post launchedits www.huffingtonpost.comwebsiteas a for-profit enterprise on May 9, 2005.(FAC¶ 119.)The Huffington Post was ostensibly created by defendantsHuffington and Lerer, although the proper attribution of TheHuffington Post’s creation is subject to ongoing litigation.(FAC ¶ 120.)The website has become quite popular, receivingmore than 26 million unique visitors per month as of January2011. (FAC 124.)The website providesa mix ofcontent that
Case 1:11-cv-02472-JGK Document 33 Filed 03/30/12 Page 3 of 24

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