United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE
lawsuit arises out of a dispute between pro se plaintiff
Walter Branson Bennett and the owners and operators of
defendant Wolf Mini-Storage, from whom Bennett had rented
three self-storage units starting in 2006. Bennett contends
that defendants engaged in criminal racketeering and
misappropriated trade secrets that he had stored in the
have filed a motion to dismiss Bennett's federal claims
under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Dkt. 9. They also ask the court to decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Bennett's state law
claims. Because I agree that with defendants that
Bennett's allegations do not support any federal claim
upon which relief may be granted, I will grant the motion to
dismiss the federal claims and I will decline to exercise
jurisdiction over Bennett's state law claims.
alleges in his complaint that he rented three storage units
from defendants to store equipment, tools, materials, and
“process trade secrets” for his leather design
and manufacturing business. In December 2015, defendants
terminated Bennett's rental agreements and directed him
to remove his property from the three units by December 31.
Bennett was not able to remove all of his property by
December 31. He continued to remove property during January
2016. But when he returned to the units on January 22, 2016,
defendants had cut Bennett's padlocks from the doors of
the units and had placed new padlocks on each unit door.
Defendants rejected Bennett's attempts to make
arrangements to remove his property from the units.
Defendants eventually offered Bennett's remaining
property for sale to the public and then destroyed what was
contends that defendants' actions amount to (1) trade
secret misappropriation and theft in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1832 and § 1836, (2) criminal racketeering in
violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-64, and
(3) trade secret misappropriation in violation of Wis.Stat.
Bennett cannot bring a civil lawsuit under 18 U.S.C. §
1832. That statute is a federal criminal statute that can be
enforced by the United States Attorney's Office, not
also cannot bring a claim for misappropriation of trade
secrets under 18 U.S.C. § 1836. That statute is titled
“Civil proceedings, ” and creates the potential
for civil actions to protect trade secrets. But until May
2016, the statute authorized only the Attorney General to
bring civil actions to enjoin trade secret theft that
violated § 1832. See Keehn v. United States,
No. CV144733PSGPJWX, 2015 WL 12806469, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Jan.
30, 2015) (holding that § 1836 did not create right of
action for private litigants); Harrison-Smith v. Bank of
Am., N.A., No. 06 C 4254, 2006 WL 2355565, at *1 (N.D.
Ill. Aug. 10, 2006) (same). Congress amended § 1836 on
May 11, 2016, when it passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of
2016. The 2016 Act creates a private cause of action in favor
of the “owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated
. . . if the trade secret is related to a product or service
used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign
commerce.” 18 U.S.C. § 1836(b)(1). But the
amendment applies only to “misappropriation of a trade
secret . . . for which any act occurs on or after the date of
the enactment of this Act.” Defend Trade Secrets Act
§ 2(e), Pub. L. No. 114-153, 130 Stat. 376 (May 11,
2016). In this instance, Bennett alleges that defendants
misappropriated his trade secrets when they cut off his
padlocks and placed new padlocks on the storage units in
January 2016. Plt.'s Cpt., Dkt. 1, ¶ 28; Plt.'s
Resp. Br., Dkt. 15, at 7 (“The misappropriation/theft
occurred on an earlier date than April 23, 2016 [when the
property was destroyed]. Defendants will provide the date
that Plaintiff's locks were cut off of the three
units.”). Because Congress has not authorized a private
right of action for trade secret misappropriation that
occurred before May 11, 2016, Bennett's allegations do
not support a claim under § 1836.
allegations also do not support a RICO claim. To state a
claim under RICO, a plaintiff must allege (1) conduct, (2) of
an enterprise, (3) through a pattern, (4) of racketeering
activity. DeGuelle v. Camilli, 664 F.3d 192, 199
(7th Cir. 2011). “Racketeering activity” means
the specific acts enumerated in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1).
Bennett has not identified conduct by defendants that meets
the definition of “racketeering activity.” He
also has not alleged any facts that would support the other
elements of a claim under RICO.
leaves Bennett's state law claims. Because there is not
diversity of citizenship between the parties, Bennett must
rely on 28 U.S.C. § 1367 to support an exercise of
jurisdiction over those claims. The general rule is that
federal courts should relinquish jurisdiction over state law
claims if all federal claims are resolved before trial. 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3); Burritt v. Ditlefsen, 807
F.3d 239, 252 (7th Cir. 2015). Defendants ask the court to
dismiss Bennett's claims under § 1367(c)(3) and
Bennett has not responded to that request, so I see no reason
to depart from the general rule. I will dismiss Bennett's
state law claims without prejudice to his refiling them in
ORDERED that defendants' motion to dismiss, Dkt. 9, is
GRANTED. Plaintiff George William Bennett's federal
claims are DISMISSED under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state
a claim upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiff's
state law claims are DISMISSED without prejudice under 28
U.S.C. § ...