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Gray v. Staley

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 10, 2015

Linwood Gray, Plaintiff,
Harry Staley, et al., Defendants.


AMIT P. MEHTA, District Judge.


Plaintiff Linwood Gray is a pro se litigant who has accused Defendants Harry, Annis, and Joann Staley of committing fraud and using the proceeds to enrich themselves at his expense. The fundamental problem with Gray's complaint is that many of the events comprising the alleged fraud took place over 30 years ago. Not surprisingly, Defendants have moved to dismiss all of Gray's claims as barred by the applicable statute of limitations. But Defendants' motion to dismiss is not the only motion pending before the court. Gray has filed a host of other motions requiring the court's attention. The court considers all of them below. Ultimately, all of Gray's filings are for naught, because the court concludes that Gray's claims are untimely and thus grants Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.


A. Factual Background

According to the Complaint, beginning in 1977, Plaintiff Linwood Gray and Defendant Harry Staley discussed possible investment opportunities, including the option of purchasing McDonald's franchises. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 1. In 1978, the two men opened an insurance company to generate income to purchase the franchises. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff contributed $25, 000 toward the company, as well as a new Cadillac that was intended to be the company car. Id. ¶¶ 11-12.

In 1982, Gray entered into another arrangement with Harry Staley, as well as Harry's then-wife, Defendant Joann Staley. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff had his residence transferred into the control of Harry and Joann, [1] who were to hold the property on Plaintiff's behalf. Id. ¶¶ 17-19. Thereafter, without Plaintiff's knowledge, Harry and Joann acquired a personal loan against the property. Id. ¶ 20.

Several years later, in 1985, Gray asked Harry and Joann to take out a loan against his residence to save the property from foreclosure. Id. ¶ 21. Harry and Joann then allegedly lied to Plaintiff, claiming that they could not find a lender, and failed to inform him that they already had encumbered the home with a personal loan. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. In late 1985, the house was sold at a foreclosure auction. Id. ¶ 24. Without Gray's knowledge, Harry and Joann received $50, 000 from the sale. Id.

Fast-forward 26 years to 2011. In mid-2011, Gray allegedly learned for the first time that Harry and his new wife, Defendant Annis Staley, "had secretly opened seven' McDonald's franchises, in the state of New Jersey without apprising Plaintiff of their acquisitions, " using "Plaintiff's capital... to make the initial franchise acquisitions." Id. ¶¶ 25-26. An email attached to Plaintiff's complaint shows that on May 26, 2011, he asked a friend named Johnnie Ervin to "run down a guy named Harry L. Staley.... Could be the owner of a few McDonalds and possibly live in NJ, [which is] the last address I had on him." Compl., Ex. 1 at 6. Five days later, on May 31, 2011, Ervin wrote back confirming that Staley indeed was the owner of seven McDonald's franchises. Id.

B. Procedural Background

On May 28, 2014, almost three years to the day after he received the email from Ervin, Gray filed suit against the Defendants. See Compl. Asserting that Defendants' McDonald's franchises were financed in part by profits from his investments and the sale of his house, Plaintiff brought various claims against Defendants: (1) aiding and abetting; (2) constructive fraud; (3) civil conspiracy; (4) unjust enrichment; (5) breach of fiduciary duty; (6) violation of the Uniform Partnership Act; (7) false misrepresentation; and (8) fraudulent concealment. Id. at 1. According to service affidavits, all three Defendants were served on June 25, 2014. ECF No. 3.

Nearly two months passed, and Defendants had yet to answer the complaint. On August 20, 2014, Gray applied to the clerk of court for an entry of default, which the clerk granted the following day. See Decl. for Entry of J., ECF No. 4 at 1-2; Entry of Default, ECF No. 5 at 1. One month later, on September 23, 2014, Defendants moved to vacate the entry of default. ECF No. 8. In the interim, on September 5, 2014, Gray filed his first motion for entry of a default judgment in the amount of $75 million. ECF No. 6. On October 2, 2014, Gray filed a second motion for entry of default judgment. ECF No. 10. On October 6, 2014, Gray filed a third motion for entry of default judgment. ECF Nos. 12, 13. That same day, Defendants filed their motion to dismiss. ECF No. 11. Gray also has filed a number of additional motions in these proceedings, which the court addresses in the discussion below.


A. Motion to Vacate Entry of Default and Motions for ...

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