National R.R. Passenger v. Veolia Transp. Servs., No. 07-1263 (RBW).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtReggie B. Walton
Citation592 F.Supp.2d 86
PartiesNATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, Plaintiff, v. VEOLIA TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.
Decision Date08 January 2009
Docket NumberNo. 07-1263 (RBW).
592 F.Supp.2d 86
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
VEOLIA TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC., et al., Defendants.
Civil Action No. 07-1263 (RBW).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
January 8, 2009.

Page 87

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Page 88

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Page 89

Gary A. Orseck, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Kim Hoyt Sperduto, The Sperduto Law Firm, PLC, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

REGGIE B. WALTON, District Judge.


The plaintiff, National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak"), filed this action for damages in this Court on July 16, 2007, against Veolia Transportation Services, Inc. and Veolia Transportation Inc. (collectively "the defendants" or "Veolia"), asserting claims of aiding and abetting the breach of a fiduciary duty, Complaint ("Compl.") ¶¶ 53-59, and tortious interference with an economic advantage, id. ¶¶ 60-66.1 Currently before the Court is the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief May be Granted pursuant to Federal Rule Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).2 For the

Page 90

reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion is denied.

I. Background

Both "Amtrak and ... Veolia are providers of transportation services, including operations services and commuter rail systems." Compl. ¶ 6. Amtrak's complaint alleges that Veolia wrongfully recruited and enticed key members of Amtrak's staff to terminate their employment to take positions with Veolia, id. ¶¶ 21-23, causing Amtrak to suffer an economic loss, id. ¶ 66.

The parties dispute arose against the following backdrop. "On or about October 3, 2006, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority ("SFRTA") issued Request for Proposal No. 06-112 ("the Operations RFP"), which sought a contract to provide Operator Services for SFRTA's Tri-Rail Commuter Rail System in Florida ("the Operations Contract")." Id. ¶ 9. "The Operations RFP requested proposals to provide operations service for the Tri-Rail system's 48 weekday, 16 Saturday, and 14 Sunday and Holiday revenue trains." Id. ¶ 11. "The term of the agreement [between a successful bidder/contractor and the SFRTA] was to be [for] seven years with [a] one three-year option period." Id. Proposals for the Operations Contract were due on or before January 11, 2007. Id. ¶ 12. The requirements needed for a successful bid included, inter alia, the composition of a "`Key Management Team'" that would be charged with implementing and managing the services to be provided. Id. ¶ 13. The Operations RFP required each bidder to list the actual names of the members of the key management team and what their responsibilities would include. Id. "The Operations RFP set forth strict requirements concerning the qualifications of the Key Management Team Members." Id. ¶ 14. Amtrak and Veolia were the only two companies that submitted proposals by the January 11, 2007 deadline. Id. ¶ 17.

Veolia's proposal identified General Manager Sidney N. Birckett, a former Amtrak employee for thirty years, as the head of its Key Management Team. Id. ¶ 18. Due to the limited pool of rail transportation managers with the stringent qualifications demanded by the SFRTA's Operations RFP and the fact that many of the individuals with the qualifications were already employed on other projects, Amtrak alleges that Veolia lacked the necessary personnel to further staff the Key Management Team. Id. ¶ 19. Thus, Amtrak asserts that Veolia "was at risk of being unable to submit a qualifying proposal to [the] SFRTA." Id. Amtrak contends that "[to] overcome this substantial obstacle, ... [Birckett, after he became a Veolia employee,] set about to recruit Veolia's proposed Key Management Team from among the ranks of Birckett's former colleagues at Amtrak." Id. ¶ 20. And, unbeknownst to Amtrak, Veolia purportedly proceeded to identify and solicit senior Amtrak operations personnel who were highly skilled in the requisite SFRTA Operations RFP requirements. Id. ¶ 21. Amtrak alleges that in order to induce the solicited Amtrak employees to abandon Amtrak and sign on with Veolia, the employees were promised favorable terms and key management positions if Veolia's bid was selected. Id. Amtrak asserts that "[a]t the same time, and in exchange for the benefits that Veolia offered these Amtrak employees, Veolia demanded that they agree not to allow Amtrak to list them as members of Amtrak's proposed Key Management Team." Id. Veolia successfully solicited the services of "(1) Douglas Stencil, Veolia's proposed Safety and Training Manger; (2) Victor Salemme,

Page 91

Veolia's proposed Superintendent of Transportation; and (3) Gary Mauck, Veolia's proposed Communications Manager,"

3 who, according to Amtrak, were all Amtrak employees when the solicitations were initiated. Id. ¶ 22.4 "Veolia boasted that the members of its proposed Key Management Team possessed a combined 130 years of railroad experience" and Amtrak asserts that "approximately 110 of those years were with Amtrak." Id. ¶ 28. "Similarly, Veolia stressed that its team members had `built their reputations on delivering the best,' and had `worked together before and ha[d] already established solid working relationships with one another.'" Id. ¶ 29. Amtrak argues that "those reputations were built, and those solid working relationships established at Amtrak." Id.

Once Amtrak's and Veolia's proposals for the SFRTA contract were submitted, an Evaluation Committee used a scoring system to decide which party should be awarded the contract. Id. ¶¶ 43-47. The Evaluation Committee awarded Veolia a total score of 85, including a score of 28 for the qualifications and experience of its personnel identified in its proposal. On the other hand, Amtrak received a total score of 62.3, with a score of 27.3 for the qualifications and experience of the personnel named in its proposal. Id. ¶ 47. "The Evaluation Committee's memorandum also listed perceived strengths of the Veolia proposal, including that its Key Management Team possessed `[s]trong qualifications'; that Veolia was an `[e]xperienced company with worldwide resources'; that it `[p]ossess[ed] U.S. Commuter Rail experience'; and that it possessed `[k]nowledge of shared rail corridors.'" Id. ¶ 48 (emphasis in original). "Based on the Evaluation Committee's memorandum and recommendation, the Tri-Rail System operations contract was awarded to Veolia." Id. ¶ 50.

In a January 24, 2007 letter, Amtrak was informed of Veolia's successful bid. Id. ¶ 52. Subsequently, on January 26, 2007, Amtrak learned "that Veolia had [allegedly] induced Stencil, Salemme and Mauck to support Veolia's competing bid, and also learned that Veolia had extracted promises from each of them not to support Amtrak's bid." Id. Furthermore, Amtrak contends that as employees, Stencil, Salemme, and Mauck ("the three employees"), "owed Amtrak fiduciary duties of care, undivided loyalty, and obedience," id. ¶ 33; and that Veolia aided and abetted the solicited employees to breach those duties rendering Amtrak not as qualified as it might have been when it submitted its proposal, id. ¶ 42.

In this action, Amtrak is seeking to recover the damages it contends it suffered as a result of not being awarded the contract and for tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage. The first count of the complaint claims that Amtrak was owed a duty of loyalty from the three employees who were enticed to leave its employ by the defendants, and that the defendants' wrongful acts aided and abetted the three employees' breach of that duty. Id. ¶¶ 39-54. The second count of the complaint alleges that Veolia, through its actions, improperly interfered with Amtrak's prospective economic advantage.

Page 92

Id. ¶¶ 63-66. Veolia has moved to dismiss Amtrak's claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In support of their argument, Veolia contends that (1) Amtrak has failed to demonstrate that any alleged damages were caused by Veolia's actions; (2) Amtrak has failed to allege a cause of action for aiding and abetting the breach of a fiduciary duty; (3) Amtrak has failed to allege a cause of action for tortious interference with an economic advantage; and (4) allowing Amtrak to maintain its claims would be contrary to public policy. Defendants' Memorandum in Support of the Motion to Dismiss ("Defs.' Mem.") at 3, 5, 9, 12.

II. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this Court must construe the allegations and facts in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must grant the plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged in the complaint. Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C.Cir.1994). In deciding whether to dismiss a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court may consider only the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, and matters about which the Court may take judicial notice.5 EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 (D.C.Cir.1997). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion should be granted and the claim dismissed only if the plaintiff does not provide "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, ___, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).

III. Legal Analysis

A. The Plaintiff's Claim of Aiding and Abetting the Breach of a Fiduciary Duty

Veolia seeks dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) of Amtrak's aiding and abetting the breach of a fiduciary duty claim on the ground that: (1) Amtrak has failed to demonstrate that the former at-will Amtrak employees had a fiduciary duty to Amtrak

Page 93

or that the employees had a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
20 practice notes
  • Slate v. Pub. Defender Serv. for D.C., Civil Action No. 13–00798BAH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 2, 2014
    ...to plaintiff's claim’ that the letter was retaliatory”) (citation omitted); Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Veolia Transp. Servs., Inc., 592 F.Supp.2d 86, 92 n. 5 (D.D.C.2009) (citing Langer. v. George Washington Univ., 498 F.Supp.2d 196, 202 n. 1 (D.D.C.2007) (declining to convert a 12(b)(6)......
  • Slate v. Pub. Defender Serv. for the Dist. of Columbia, Civil Action No. 13–00798(BAH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 2, 2014
    ...to plaintiff's claim’ that the letter was retaliatory”) (citation omitted); Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Veolia Transp. Servs., Inc., 592 F.Supp.2d 86, 92 n. 5 (D.D.C.2009) (citing Langer. v. George Washington Univ., 498 F.Supp.2d 196, 202 n. 1 (D.D.C.2007) (declining to convert a 12(b)(6)......
  • Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. Am. Asphalt S., Inc., B255558
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2015
    ...is an adequate remedy at law.” (Id. at p. 396, 162 A.2d 623.) In National R.R. Passenger v. Veolia Transportation Services (D.C.C.2009) 592 F.Supp.2d 86, Amtrak sued another rail company for interfering with its bid to provide railway services in Florida. Applying District of Columbia law, ......
  • Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. Am. Asphalt S., Inc., B255558
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2015
    ...is an adequate remedy at law.” (Id. at p. 396, 162 A.2d 623.)In National R.R. Passenger v. Veolia Transportation Services (D.C.C.2009) 592 F.Supp.2d 86, Amtrak sued another rail company for interfering with its bid to provide railway services in Florida. Applying District of Columbia law, t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. Am. Asphalt S., Inc., B255558
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2015
    ...is an adequate remedy at law.” (Id. at p. 396, 162 A.2d 623.)In National R.R. Passenger v. Veolia Transportation Services (D.C.C.2009) 592 F.Supp.2d 86, Amtrak sued another rail company for interfering with its bid to provide railway services in Florida. Applying District of Columbia law, t......
  • Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. Am. Asphalt S., Inc., B255558
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2015
    ...is an adequate remedy at law.” (Id. at p. 396, 162 A.2d 623.) In National R.R. Passenger v. Veolia Transportation Services (D.C.C.2009) 592 F.Supp.2d 86, Amtrak sued another rail company for interfering with its bid to provide railway services in Florida. Applying District of Columbia law, ......
  • Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. Am. Asphalt S., Inc., B255558
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2015
    ...is an adequate remedy at law.” ( Id. at p. 396, 162 A.2d 623.) In National R.R. Passenger v. Veolia Transportation Services (D.C.C.2009) 592 F.Supp.2d 86, Amtrak sued another rail company for interfering with its bid to provide railway services in Florida. Applying District of Columbia law,......
  • Slate v. Pub. Defender Serv. for the Dist. of Columbia, Civil Action No. 13–00798(BAH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 2, 2014
    ...to plaintiff's claim’ that the letter was retaliatory”) (citation omitted); Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp. v. Veolia Transp. Servs., Inc., 592 F.Supp.2d 86, 92 n. 5 (D.D.C.2009) (citing Langer. v. George Washington Univ., 498 F.Supp.2d 196, 202 n. 1 (D.D.C.2007) (declining to convert a 12(b)(6)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT