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McIntyre v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Alaska

March 5, 2015

CHRISTOPHER J. McINTYRE, Plaintiff,
v.
BP EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION, INC., BP AMERICA PRODUCTION. COMPANY, JOHN DOES 1-20, Defendants.

AMENDED

ORDER REGARDING PENDING MOTIONS AND GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS DOCKET NOS. 87, 126, 127

RALPH R. BEISTLINE, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is BP Exploration & Production, Inc. (Defendants") with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim at Docket 87. Plaintiff McIntyre ("Plaintiff") opposes the motion at Docket 120 and Defendants reply at Docket 125. Plaintiff has also moved for oral argument on this matter at Docket 126 and moved for leave to file a surreply at Docket 127. II.

II. BACKGROUND

This matter centers on the Macondo Oil Well (herein "Well") in the Gulf of Mexico, which was owned and operated by Defendants. On April 21, 2010, an explosion occurred at the Well which resulted in the uncontrolled leaking of oil into the surrounding coastal waters.[1] When initial efforts to stop the flow of oil failed, Defendants solicited ideas, suggestions, and input from the general public to address the problem.[2] Defendants solicited public input and suggestions from May 4, 2010, through July, 9, 2010, even creating a hotline and website to process public response.[3] Plaintiff alleges that beginning on May 11, 2010, he responded to Defendants' request by telephone and by online submission of drawings illustrating potential methods for capping the Well.[4] Defendants' representatives responded to Plaintiff's contact, which by Plaintiff's account ranged from asking for additional details, to noting a similar approach was already under consideration or implementation, to even stating that Plaintiff's suggestions were not viable.[5] Plaintiff's last correspondence was in an email on July 11, 2010, and Defendants' last response was on July 6, 2010. During the same period as Plaintiff's communications with Defendants' representatives, Defendants held several internal meetings and email exchanges regarding potential ideas to cap the Well, which led to several failed capping attempts.[6]

On July 15, 2010, the Well was finally capped by Defendants. Based on the method used to cap the Well, Defendants filed U.S. Patent Application No. 2013/0020086, titled "Systems and Methods for Capping a Subsea Well, " which was published on January 24, 2013, making no mention of Plaintiff.[7] The application is pending before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Plaintiff has not received any compensation, credit, or acknowledgment from Defendants for the use of his submitted ideas in the eventual capping of the Well or the patent application. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants in Alaska Superior Court and this matter was properly removed to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction.[8]

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) may be granted "only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations."[9] In deciding a motion, not only must a court accept all material allegations in the complaint as true, but the complaint must be construed, and all doubts resolved, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.[10] In short, "[w]hile legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations."[11] A court should not look to "whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims."[12]

IV. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff has asserted numerous causes of action in his Second Amended Complaint, all of which Defendants seek to have dismissed. The Court addresses these causes of action, identified by Plaintiff as Counts I through Count XIV.

A. CONTRACT (COUNT I)

Plaintiff has alleged a breach of contract by Defendants.[13] In order for there to be a breach of contract, there must first be the formation of a contract. In the state of Alaska, "[t]he formation of a valid contract requires an offer encompassing all essential terms, unequivocal acceptance by the offeree, consideration, and an intent to be bound."[14] Plaintiff does not allege any specific solicitation by BP directed at Plaintiff, only news reports and informational bulletins which advertise contact information to allow people to volunteer or provide ideas.[15] Moreover, Plaintiff has not alleged any response from ...


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