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Leicester Bryce Stovell v. Gloria M. James et al

September 14, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge


This action was filed by pro se Plaintiff Leicester Bryce Stovell ("Stovell") against NBA basketball superstar LeBron James and his mother, Gloria M. James (collectively, "Defendants") on June 23, 2010. Stovell claims that he is LeBron James's biological father and that both LeBron and his mother Gloria have spread lies about Stovell's paternity, falsified the results of a paternity test, and made disparaging statements in an effort to silence him. Stovell asserts claims against Defendants for common law fraud and misrepresentation, defamation, breach of contract, and tortious interference with contract. Defendants have filed a [9] Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, which is opposed by Stovell. Stovell has also filed a [14] Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint, which Defendants oppose on the ground that the proposed amendment fails to save Stovell's defective claims. Finally, Stovell has filed a [16] Request for Leave to File Supplemented Memorandum in Opposition and Supplemental Points and Authorities, to which Defendants have failed to respond. The Court shall grant Stovell's latter motion as unopposed. However, for the reasons explained below, the Court shall grant Defendants' motion to dismiss and deny Stovell's motion for leave to amend.


The following facts are drawn from Stovell's Complaint, and the Court must accept them as true for purposes of deciding Defendants' motion to dismiss.

A. Stovell's Initial Encounters with Gloria James

Plaintiff Leicester Bryce Stovell is an attorney who has resided in the Washington, D.C. area since November 1983. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant Gloria James is a resident of Akron, Ohio and is the mother of Defendant LeBron James. Id. ¶ 2. In or about mid-March 1984, Stovell met Gloria James at a restaurant/bar in the District of Columbia called "DC Space." Id. ¶ 4. According to Stovell, Gloria James told him that she was in her early twenties and had a job in Akron. Id. At the time, Stovell was 29 years old. Id. After socializing for a few hours, Gloria James went home with Stovell, and they had sex. Id. ¶ 5. She allegedly told Stovell that she was a virgin. Id. Early the next morning, Gloria James told Stovell that she had to return to Ohio.

Id. ¶ 7. Stovell dropped her off at a subway station in downtown Washington and apologized to her, believing that he had disappointed her and that she did not like him. Id.

A few months later, around June 1984, Stovell again encountered Gloria James at DC Space. Compl. ¶ 8. They spoke briefly inside the bar and then went back to Stovell's new apartment in the city. Id. While at Stovell's apartment, Gloria James told Stovell that she was pregnant with a baby boy. Id. ¶ 9. She did not appear pregnant to Stovell. Id. James asked to see something with Stovell's name written on it, and Stovell handed her his business card, which read "Leicester B. Stovell." Id. She asked what his middle name was, and Stovell told her it was "Bryce." According to Stovell, she said something like, "That's perfect," and then told him, "I'm going to name him 'LeBron.'" Id. Stovell asked about the origins of the name "LeBron," and Gloria James reportedly told him it was the name of one of her cousin's friends. Id. ¶ 10. Stovell asked if that person was the father of the child, and she said he was not. Id. Gloria James never told Stovell that he was the father of her child, but he assumed that was what she was implying. Id. Stovell kept expecting her to provide more information or ask for advice, but she did not. Id. ¶ 11. After several moments, she told Stovell she had to leave and go back to Ohio. Id. Stovell said to her, "I can tell I don't need to ask this, but I have to anyway. I take it that you are going to have the child[?]" Id. ¶ 12. Gloria James responded affirmatively. Id. Stovell then told her, "Well, if he's mine, make sure he plays basketball." Id. Stovell had played basketball during high school. Id. James responded simply, "I will." Id. Stovell asked her if she could remember his address, and she told him she could; Stovell felt that James would know how to contact him if necessary. Id. ¶ 13.

A week after his second encounter with Gloria James, Stovell returned to DC Space. Compl. ¶ 14. The bartender there told Stovell that Gloria James was under age; she had told the bartender she was fifteen years old. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Stovell did not believe the bartender. Id. ¶ 15. Ultimately, Stovell decided to forget the entire matter. Id. Gloria James never contacted Stovell again. Id. ¶ 16. On December 30, 1984, Gloria James gave birth to LeBron James in Akron, Ohio. Id. ¶ 17. The line for the father's name on LeBron James's birth certificate was left blank. Id. ¶ 18.

B. Stovell Remembers His Encounter with Gloria James and Starts to Believe He Is the Father of LeBron James

In 2006, an acquaintance of Stovell asked him if he might have a son that he did not know about. Compl. ¶ 19. Upon reflection, Stovell recalled his encounters with Gloria James back in 1984. Id. By this time, LeBron James had already become a well-known basketball player, but Stovell had never previously considered that he might be his father. Id. ¶ 20. Now, Stovell thought that there was a distinct possibility that he was, based on his encounters with Gloria James and similarities in their height and general appearance. Id. Stovell researched press reports about LeBron James's upbringing, and he found statements made by Gloria James indicating that LeBron's biological father was a man named Anthony McClelland. Id.

Around June 2007, Stovell decided to contact LeBron James's attorney, Frederick Nance ("Nance"), to see if he could confirm that Anthony McClelland was in fact the biological father of LeBron James. Compl. ¶ 21. Nance allegedly told Stovell that a DNA paternity test had ruled out Anthony McClelland as the biological father. Id. ¶ 22. Stovell told Nance about his encounters with Gloria James, and he asked for a private meeting with Gloria James to discuss the matter. Id. Stovell exchanged several phone calls with Nance throughout June and July 2007, during which Nance told him that LeBron James was "indifferent" towards the idea of a father. Id. ¶ 24. A few months later, Stovell read press reports where LeBron James said he "wants to be a better father than mine was." Id. Stovell claims that based on LeBron James's own statements, media reports, and other circumstances, Gloria James suggested to LeBron that his biological father was uninterested in being a parent. Id. ¶ 24.*fn1

Several months after June 2007, Stovell learned that LeBron James had a son whom he had named "Bryce," which is Stovell's middle name. Compl. ¶ 23.

C. Stovell's Teleconference with Gloria James and the Paternity Test

In or about mid- to late July 2007, Nance called Stovell to tell him that Gloria James was ready to speak with him. Compl. ¶ 25. Nance, Stovell, and Gloria James then held a conference call that lasted over an hour. Id. ¶ 26. Gloria James questioned Stovell about his claims that the two had met in 1984 and asked Stovell to provide proof for his claims of paternity. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Gloria James then claimed that she had never met Stovell and told him that "LeBron's money is for his children." Id. ¶ 27. She also told Stovell, "If you continue with this I will have you harmed, professionally and even physically." Id. Nance asked Stovell if he recalled any birthmarks or other distinctive physical characteristics of Gloria James, and Stovell said he did not. Id. ¶ 28. Nance advised Stovell that he would inform LeBron James of his interest in having a DNA paternity test. Id.

A few days after the telephone conference, Nance advised Stovell that LeBron James had agreed to take a DNA paternity test, notwithstanding his mother's position. Compl. ¶ 29. Nance made the arrangements for the test. Id. Stovell paid half the fee, and LeBron James paid the other half. Id. Stovell drove to Cleveland to have his sample collected at Advantage Health Care by its owner and manager, Sandy Dvorak. Id. Ms. Dvorak "refused to inform" Stovell what precautions would be taken to ensure the integrity of the DNA collection and testing procedures other than to say, "I just do my job." Id. ¶ 30. Three other persons were present in the office, including Ms. Dvorak's young daughter. Id. Stovell overheard the daughter say, "He can't be LeBron's father. He's too young." Id. Ms. Dvorak took swabs of Stovell's cheeks, a photo of his passport, and a photo of Stovell and placed them in an unsealed envelope. Id. ¶ 31. At one point, she left the envelope on a table and left the room for approximately five minutes, leaving Stovell unattended with his samples. Id. Ms. Dvorak also advised Stovell that she had collected LeBron James's DNA samples the previous day in Cleveland. Id. ¶ 32.

As Stovell left Advantage Health Care, he noticed that he was being followed by a light-skinned black man driving a silver Hummer. Compl. ¶ 33. Stovell contends that the Hummer was similar to one that Gloria James is known to have given LeBron James when he was on the verge of signing an NBA contract. Id. Stovell contends that the driver's appearance was consistent with photographs Stovell has seen of Eddie Jackson, a long-time friend of Gloria James. Id. Stovell believes that Mr. Jackson intentionally allowed him to see that he was being followed. Id.

The DNA samples remained in Cleveland for 4 days before they were transported to Genetica DNA Laboratories in Cincinnati. Compl. ΒΆ 34. The following week, Ms. Dvorak informed Stovell by telephone that the result of the test was a 0% probability of paternity. Id. Stovell confirmed that Nance had received the results, and he ...

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