Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dastranj v. Dehghan

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 1, 2016

FARHAD DASTRANJ, Plaintiff,
v.
MEHDI DEHGHAN, Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
USA INVESTCO LLC et al., Third Party Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis United States District Judge

         Pending in this contractual dispute is Third Party Defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 46). The issues are fully briefed and a hearing was held on Thursday, November 10, 2016, with supplemental briefing to follow. ECF Nos. 56, 57, & 58. For the reasons stated below, Third Party Defendants' motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         Plaintiff Farhad Dastranj (“Dastranj”) is an Iranian citizen and resident seeking to immigrate to the United States. He attempted to obtain an Employment Based Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor Visa (“EB-5 Visa”) under the Immigrant Investor Program (the “EB-5 Program”). ECF No. 1 at 2. To be eligible for an EB-5 Visa, an immigrant investor must invest, or be actively in the process of investing, at least $500, 000 in an enterprise that will benefit the United States economy by creating full time employment for not fewer than ten (10) qualified individuals. Id. USA InvestCo (“InvestCo”), Northern Riverfront Marina and Hotel LLP (“Northern Riverfront”), and Wilmington Riverfront Development LLC (“Wilmington Riverfront”) (collectively, “Third Party Defendants”) are North Carolina-based companies that facilitate prospective EB-5 investors' visa requirements by allowing the investors to invest in the Third Party Defendants' qualifying projects (“EB-5 projects”). See ECF No. 36.

         Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff, Mehdi Dehghan (“Dehghan”) alleges that he is an employee of InvestCo, responsible for helping to acquire investor capital for Northern Riverfront and Wilmington Riverfront. Id. at 3-4. On or about August 8, 2010, Dehghan obtained a commitment from Dastranj to invest in Northern Riverfront so that Dastranj could satisfy his EB-5 Visa requirements. Id. at 4. Dehghan told Dastranj that Dastranj would be required to invest a minimum capital amount of $500, 000.00 in securities, which Dehghan agreed to accept on InvestCo's behalf in the form of Iranian currency. Id. at 5-6. Dehghan promised that he would transfer the money to the appropriate individual company and in compliance with the EB-5 Program. In the meantime, Dastranj's investment capital would stay in Dehghan's bank account at the Bank of Pasargad in Iran. ECF No. 26 at 9. From November 2010 through December 2011, Dastranj gave Dehghan a total of $445, 000.00 to invest in an EB-5 Project in North Carolina on behalf of Dastranj. Dehghan also received additional funds throughout 2012. ECF No. 1 at 3.

         On or about October 2012, the U.S. Embassy denied Dastranj's visitor visa application. ECF No. 1 at 4. Dastranj alleges that while his visitor visa application was pending and after it was denied, Dehghan refused Dastranj's requests to transfer his investment capital to Dastranj's U.S.-based attorney so that the attorney could complete the visa process. Id. at 4-5. As a result of Dehghan's refusal to transfer the funds, Dastranj alleges that he demanded Dehghan return the money to him. ECF No. 1 at 4-5. Dehghan admits that the funds have not been returned to Dastranj. ECF No. 10 at 5. However, he “is ready and willing to return [Dastranj's] funds in the form in which such funds were provided (i.e. Iranian currency).” Id.

         On August 17, 2015, Dastranj filed a Complaint in this Court against Dehghan asserting six counts: (1) breach of contract; (2) unjust enrichment (in the alternative); (3) fraud; (4) “Consumer Protection Violation- N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1;” (5) “Fraudulent and Other Prohibited Practices- N.C. Gen. Stat. § 78A-8;” and (6) “Fraudulent Interstate Transactions-15 U.S.C. § 77q.” ECF No. 1. All of Dastranj's claims center on Dehghan's alleged refusal to transfer Dastranj's investment capital to an EB-5 Project in North Carolina or to return the money back to Dastranj. See generally id.

         On May 2, 2016, Dehghan filed a third party complaint against the Third Party Defendants for indemnification and contribution. ECF No. 36. The crux of Dehghan's claims is that he was an employee or agent acting on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the Third Party Defendants when he entered into his agreement with Dastranj. Because Dehghan was acting in his capacity as an employee or agent of the Third Party Defendants when he executed the agreement with Dastranj, the Third Party Defendants are liable for Dastranj's injury. On July 1, 2016, the Third Party Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Dehghan's Third Party Complaint under Rules 14 and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 46.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When ruling on a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must “accept the well-pled allegations of the complaint as true, ” and “construe the facts and reasonable inferences derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). “The mere recital of elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, is not sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). “To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need not ‘forecast' evidence sufficient to prove the elements of the claim. However, the complaint must allege sufficient facts to establish those elements.” Walters, 684 F.3d at 439 (citation omitted). “Thus, while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in a complaint that the right to relief is ‘probable, ' the complaint must advance the plaintiff's claim ‘across the line from conceivable to plausible.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Choice of Law

         This Court is presiding over a diversity action in Maryland, and thus applies Maryland choice of law rules. See Wells v. Liddy, 186 F.3d 505, 521 (4th Cir. 1999) (“A federal court sitting in diversity must apply the choice-of-law rules from the forum state.”). For causes of action sounding in tort, Maryland adheres to the lex loci delicti rule, applying the substantive law of the state in which the alleged tort took place. Philip Morris Inc. v. Angeletti, 358 Md. 689, 744-45 (2000). For causes of action sounding in contract, Maryland follows the doctrine of lex loci contractus, applying the substantive law of the place where the contract was formed. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hart, 327 Md. 526, 529 (1992). Finally, where a case involves causes of action sounding in tort and contract, Maryland embraces the concept of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.