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Nekkanti v. V-Soft Consulting Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

July 30, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (DN 8). The matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons provided below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Shrikanth Nekkanti (“Nekkanti”) is a resident of Aurora, Illinois, and was formerly employed by the information technology employee placement firm, Cognizant. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 11). Nekkanti alleges Defendant V-Soft Consulting Group (“V-Soft”) is a business headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, which also places skilled information technology employees with firms in need of such workers. Firms pay V-Soft directly for the employees' services, and V-Soft in turn pays the employees a percentage of this payment. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 6-7).

         Saisivakumar Yerramneni (“Yerramneni”) was employed by V-Soft when he was placed with health insurance firm, Anthem, on a project under the supervision of Nekkanti in Atlanta, Georgia. (Compl. ¶¶ 8-11). In August 2018, Yerramneni allegedly approached Nekkanti to ask him to sign an affidavit describing Yerramneni's job responsibilities so that he could give it to V- Soft's immigration department for filing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to extend Yerramneni's H1B visa. (Compl. ¶¶ 11-13).

         Nekkanti completed and signed the affidavit, and Yerramneni provided it to V-Soft. (Compl. ¶¶ 15-16). Nekkanti alleges V-Soft then wrote an entirely different affidavit and placed an Anthem logo at the top of each page. (Compl. ¶ 17). Nekkanti alleges V-Soft used his signature from the affidavit it acquired from Yerramneni to forge his signature on this second affidavit. (Compl. ¶ 18). V-Soft then allegedly filed this second affidavit with USCIS in its application to extend Yerramneni's H1B visa. (Compl. ¶ 19).

         Nekkanti alleges V-Soft's filing of this affidavit triggered an audit of Anthem, who then contacted Cognizant. (Compl. ¶¶ 20-22). Cognizant subsequently terminated Nekkanti because it believed he forged Anthem's letterhead onto the affidavit. (Compl. ¶¶ 23-24). When presented with yet another version of the incriminating document with the Anthem logo, Nekkanti stated he did not prepare either version of the affidavit with Anthem's logo. (Compl. ¶ 26).

         Nekkanti first asserts three claims of interference with business advantage regarding contracts with Cognizant, Anthem, and multiple other unnamed businesses. (Compl. ¶¶ 31, 35, 41). Next, Nekkanti asserts a claim of forgery against V-Soft, arguing it intentionally deceived USCIS by affixing his signature to an affidavit containing Anthem's logo, which resulted in lost income. (Compl. ¶¶ 46-48). Finally, Nekkanti asserts a claim for negligent supervision for failing to exercise ordinary care in preventing his signature from being forged by V-Soft's employees. (Compl. ¶ 51).

         V-Soft has moved to dismiss Nekkanti's claims under Rule 12(b)(6). (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 1, DN 8). Regarding his tortious interference claims, V-Soft argues Nekkanti failed to plead any nonconclusory facts supporting the allegation that it knew of the contract or that it intended to cause breach. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 4-6). Concerning Nekkanti's forgery claim, V-Soft contends his claims must fail because he is not within the class of people protected by Kentucky's forgery statute. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 6-7). Finally, V-Soft urges the Court to dismiss Nekkanti's negligent supervision claim because he fails to allege in his Complaint that V-Soft knew or should have known there was a risk any of its employees would forge his signature. (Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 8). In his response, Nekkanti repeatedly refers to the Kentucky Civil Rules to defend his claims because he is only required to “simply submit a short and plain statement of claims showing that he . . . is entitled to relief.” (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 1, DN 9 [hereinafter Pl.'s Resp.]).


         This Court has jurisdiction because there is complete diversity between the parties and the value of the asserted claims exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).


         First, the parties disagree regarding the applicable standard of review in this case. Plaintiff repeatedly refers to Kentucky's Civil Rules, while Defendant relies on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Pl.'s Resp. 1, 3, 5; Def.'s Mot. Dismiss 1). Federal courts sitting in diversity apply state law to substantive “rules of decision” under which claims are adjudicated but apply federal law to procedural issues governing only “the manner and the means” by which litigant's rights are enforced. See Shady Grove Orthopedic Assocs., P.A. v. AllState Ins. Co., 559 U.S. 393, 406-07 (2010) (citation omitted). Accordingly, the Court will apply Kentucky substantive law to Nekkanti's claims for interference with business advantage, forgery, and negligent supervision, but will apply federal standards pertaining to procedure. See id.

         To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). A claim is facially plausible “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 considering a defendant's motion to dismiss, the Court will “accept all the [plaintiff's] factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the [plaintiff].” Hill v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mich.,409 F.3d 710, 716 (6th Cir. 2005). “A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic ...

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