United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
G. Sullivan, United States District Judge
Vox Media, Inc. (“Vox”) brings suit against its
former employee Defendant Graig Mansfield for allegedly
defrauding the company by taking over $200, 000 of its assets
for his own use. Vox's complaint includes four counts
against Mr. Mansfield for (1) fraud; (2) fraudulent
concealment; (3) conversion; and (4) unjust enrichment.
Pending before the Court is Mr. Mansfield's motion to
dismiss Vox's complaint. See Def.'s Mot.,
ECF No. 14. Upon consideration of the motion, the response
and reply thereto, and the relevant law, Mr. Mansfield's
motion to dismiss is DENIED.
a digital media company organized under Delaware law with its
principal place of business in the District of Columbia.
Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶ 2. Vox creates and distributes news
content online “covering sports, culture, technology,
and politics, among other subjects.” Id. In
August 2012, Vox hired Mr. Mansfield to work as its
“Procurement Manager” within the finance and
accounting department. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9. Mr.
Mansfield worked in that position for three years, until he
left Vox in June 2015 and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he
currently resides. Id. ¶¶ 3, 8, 21. As
Procurement Manager, Mr. Mansfield “coordinat[ed]
procurement methods; manag[ed] data from company cards,
expense reports, and corporate accounts for budget reporting;
and monitor[ed] spend[ing] levels.” Id. ¶
9. Mr. Mansfield also managed Vox's corporate credit card
account and its various frequent-flier and travel reward
accounts. Id. ¶¶ 10, 15. Upon joining Vox,
Mr. Mansfield “acknowledged and agreed to abide
by” Vox's “Employee Handbook.”
Id. ¶ 11. In so doing, he “agreed to
‘serve the Company faithfully and use [his] best
efforts to promote its interests.'” Id. He
also agreed he would not damage, destroy, or steal company
applied for its corporate credit card in May 2012.
Id. ¶ 13. The credit card had a “rewards
program” under which a customer earned
“points” based on the customer's spending.
Id. ¶¶ 13, 16. The customer could use the
points to purchase travel or merchandise or simply convert
the points to cash or cash-equivalent bonus cards.
Id. ¶ 16. A corporate customer could choose to
enroll the company itself in the rewards program or allow
individual employees to earn the points. Id. ¶
13. Vox chose to enroll the company itself; therefore,
“all points accrued from company [credit] cards under
the rewards program would be for Vox Media's use.”
Id. Likewise, Vox enrolled itself in travel reward
accounts that operated similarly. Id. ¶¶
15, 16. The company did not authorize individuals to redeem
or transfer the company's travel or credit card points
for personal use. Id. ¶¶ 13, 14. During
Mr. Mansfield's tenure, Vox had not dedicated a specific
use for the rewards points; it was “deliberating”
and put the points “aside until the company had
determined a use for them.” Id. ¶ 18.
alleges that Mr. Mansfield “betrayed the company”
by “secretly stealing from it throughout his
employment, and even afterwards.” Id. ¶
19. According to Vox, Mr. Mansfield “repeatedly use[d]
his control over the corporate credit card and travel
accounts to transfer cash . . . or reward points . . . to his
personal accounts.” Id. For example, Mr.
Mansfield allegedly converted rewards points to
cash-equivalent gift cards and instructed the merchants to
send the gift cards to his personal address. Id. He
also allegedly used the rewards points to purchase luxury
goods-including a watch worth over $1, 700- which he also
sent to his personal address. Id. ¶¶ 19,
22. Mr. Mansfield also allegedly bought himself airline
tickets using Vox's frequent-flier points. Id.
to Vox, Mr. Mansfield “continued this theft long after
he left his position” in June 2015. Id. ¶
22. He allegedly continued using Vox's points until at
least February 2016. Id. From March 2013 through at
least February 2016, Mr. Mansfield allegedly stole over $210,
000 worth of Vox's assets. Id. ¶¶ 28,
30. Vox discovered Mr. Mansfield's alleged scheme in
April 2016 and filed its complaint on April 14, 2017. See
Id. ¶ 26-29.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint.
Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir.
2002). A complaint must contain “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quotations and citations omitted).
this liberal pleading standard, to 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) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pled
in the complaint allow the court to “draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. The standard does not
amount to a “probability requirement, ” but it
does require more than a “sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.
ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss [pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6)], a judge must accept as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint.”
Atherton v. D.C. Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672,
681 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). In addition, the court must give the plaintiff the
“benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the
facts alleged.” Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns
Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Even so,
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements” are
not sufficient to state a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
Mansfield moves to dismiss Vox's complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). See
Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 14. He makes two arguments: (1)
Vox's complaint is time-barred; and (2) Vox has not
sufficiently pled fraudulent concealment. See Id.
The Court considers each argument in turn.
It is Premature to Dismiss Vox's ...