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Kaufmann v. Irvin

United States District Court, D. Colorado

June 20, 2019

JOE IRVIN, dba Petra Environmental Systems, Inc., Defendant.



         This case involves the stormy failure of an adulterous relationship. Plaintiff Jessica Kaufmann alleges that, after she terminated her relationship with Defendant Joe Irvin, Mr. Irvin threatened her and badmouthed her in their industry. She brings claims for defamation, outrageous conduct, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.[1] Defendant Irvin alleges that he, not Ms. Kaufmann, terminated their relationship because he chose to remain with his wife and that Ms. Kaufmann brought this suit in retaliation. He brings a counterclaim for abuse of process.

         Ms. Kaufmann moves to dismiss Mr. Irvin's abuse of process counterclaim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Mr. Irvin has failed to adequately plead that she has used this legal proceeding in an improper manner. See Motion to Dismiss Amended Counterclaim, ECF No. 22. I agree, and accordingly dismiss Mr. Irvin's counterclaim.

         On a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), I must decide whether the factual allegations in Defendant Irvin's counterclaim, if true, allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that Plaintiff Kaufmann is liable for the misconduct alleged. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). As such, I consider the facts as alleged by Mr. Irvin in his counterclaim, which differ substantially from Ms. Kaufmann's account of their relations.

         I. Facts

         Ms. Kaufmann and Mr. Irvin first met in 2013 while they were both working in the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. In October 2015, they began a romantic relationship despite the fact that Mr. Irvin was married. Mr. Irvin claims Ms. Kaufmann instigated the relationship by approaching him at their hotel, pushing her way into his room, and confessing that she had been in love with him for years and wanted to have a child with him. A few months later, Ms. Kaufmann resigned from the environmental engineering firm where she had been employed and began working at Mr. Irvin's oil and gas consulting business, Petra Environmental Systems, Inc.

         Mr. Irvin ended their romantic relationship in February 2017, deciding instead to remain with his wife. Ms. Kaufmann reacted by texting and emailing him unprofessional, offensive, and vulgar comments, including the following: “I wish you were dead”; “A crash whatever”; “I would love to get up uninvited to your funeral pile and unload in front of everyone you ever cared about what a complete lying POS you truly are”; “I hate you”; “I hate you so much and unless you're in a pine box I could not even think about ever looking at you or having a conversation with you”; “Did you manage to get it up to try and make up with her?”; “You and [your wife] are soulless uneducated southern f*cks”; “I know you have no morals and could not be a man and tell the truth no matters who's life depends on it”; and “You're an ass and an idiot . . . Wow are you as stupid as your wife.” Am. Counterclaim at 9, ECF No. 20. Upon receiving these messages, Mr. Irvin blocked Ms. Kaufmann from calling or texting him and requested that she only contact him through email, with all communications to be kept professional and include another Petra employee.

         Ms. Kaufmann also emailed Mr. Irvin's wife offensive and vulgar comments, telling his wife intimate details of their relationship and claiming that he did not love his wife “enough” to have a child with her. Id. at 9-10.

         Additionally, Ms. Kaufmann threatened to sue Mr. Irvin numerous times for their failed romantic relationship and continued to escalate her communications and threats. For example, during a phone call with Mr. Irvin on April 27, 2017, Ms. Kaufmann stated “I'm taking you down” by legal action. Id. at 10.

         In September 2017, Ms. Kaufman was terminated from Petra via correspondence from Petra's attorney, which noted the following incidents that precipitated her termination:

• Her threats to Mr. Irvin and Petra; foul and abusive language toward Mr. Irvin, Petra, and management; and derogatory comments made to Mr. Irvin, Petra, and third parties including Petra's CPA and Petra's customers;
• Her interference or attempted interference with Petra's banking, domain name, and IS Networld account; and
• Her insubordination, inability to work with others, attempts to turn other employees against Mr. Irvin and Petra, and refusal to complete work assignments.

         Ms. Kaufmann continued to send harassing emails to Mr. Irvin and his wife after she was terminated, even after Petra's attorney told her to stop. She likewise persisted with her threats that she was going to bring a lawsuit against Mr. Irvin. And, on August 16, 2018, Ms. Kaufmann filed this ...

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