United States District Court, District of Columbia
MCDONALD'S USA, LLC, et al. Plaintiffs,
WILLIE T. CRAFT, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. Mehta, United States District Judge
Willie T. Craft has moved to dismiss Plaintiffs
McDonald's USA, LLC, and McDonald's Real Estate
Company's Complaint for failure to state a cognizable
dispute here arises from shared use of a single water line
that services both parties' properties. See
Compl., ECF No. 1 [hereinafter Compl.], ¶¶ 10-15.
Defendant, on whose property the water line originates,
allegedly threatened to shut off the water to Plaintiffs'
property on the theory that Plaintiffs owed Defendant money
for water that had been inappropriately billed to him.
See Id. ¶¶ 24-27. Defendant now moves to
dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint on the ground that the
allegations therein do not entitle Plaintiffs to relief
because (1) no implied easement to the shared water line
exists, given that Defendant was unaware there was a shared
water line at the time the property was purchased, and (2) no
prescriptive easement to the shared water line exists, as
Plaintiffs' representations that they would install their
own water meter negate any claim of necessity. See
Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 9, at 5.
January 18, 2017, Plaintiffs sought and the court entered a
Temporary Restraining Order, enjoining Defendant from taking
any action that would restrict or deprive Plaintiffs'
property of water. See Order, ECF No. 4. Plaintiffs
filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which the court
granted on February 13, 2017. See Order, ECF No. 14.
Defendant filed the present Motion to Dismiss four days
before the hearing on the preliminary injunction, and
although Plaintiffs filed their Opposition in time to discuss
the merits of this matter at that hearing, the parties
declined to address the merits at that time. See
Oral Hearing Tr. (rough draft), at 2-3.
the court now turns to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept a plaintiff's
factual allegations as true and “construe the complaint
‘in favor of the plaintiff, who must be granted the
benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts
alleged.'” Hettinga v. United States, 677
F.3d 471, 476 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (quoting Schuler v. United
States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979)). The court
need not accept as true either “a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation, ” Papasan v.
Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or “inferences .
. . unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint,
” Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d
1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994).
survive a motion to dismiss, 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) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). 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. The factual
allegations in the complaint need not be
“detailed”; however, the Federal Rules demand
more than “an unadorned,
Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. If the facts as alleged fail
to establish that a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which
relief can be granted, then a court must grant the
defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Am. Chemistry
Council, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human
Servs., 922 F.Supp.2d 56, 61 (D.D.C. 2013).
court is satisfied that Plaintiffs' Complaint sets out
sufficient factual allegations to state a plausible claim for
have sufficiently pleaded that they have an implied
reservation of an easement in the shared water line at issue
in this matter. Under the law of the District of Columbia,
an implied easement can arise in one of two ways-by grant or
reservation. “In the case of implied reservations of
easement, the owner has subdivided but retained possession of
the dominant estate, impliedly reserving use of a portion of
the servient estate for his benefit.” Martin v.
Bicknell, 99 A.3d 705, 708 (D.C. 2014). To properly
allege the existence of implied reservations of easement,
“the owner of the dominant estate must show that the
implied easement is strictly necessary.” Id.
Here, the Complaint alleges that “Plaintiffs subdivided
the property and sold a servient estate to Defendant . . .
with the understanding between and among all parties that the
properties . . . shared a single water line”
that Plaintiffs would continue to use. Compl. ¶¶
43-44 (emphasis added). Plaintiffs further explained that
without access to the single water line, Plaintiffs'
restaurant would be forced to close. Id. ¶ 15;
see Id. ¶ 41. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have
properly alleged that they are the owners of a dominant
parcel of land that shares access to water with the servient
parcel, and access to that single water source is necessary
for the continued operation of their business. That is a
facially plausible claim for declaratory relief regarding the
respective rights and duties as to the water line. See
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Martin, 99 A.3d at 708.
makes no argument that the Complaint is deficient. Instead,
Defendant disputes the facts underlying
Plaintiffs' Complaint. This is not the proper litigation stage
for that type of debate. Any factual wrinkles Defendant
wishes to iron out are best left for summary judgment.
light of the foregoing, the court denies ...