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Sabric v. Martin

February 12, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge



Presently before the Court is Defendant Lockheed Martin's Motion For a More Definite Statement, to Dismiss For Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted, and to Strike (Doc. 5) and Defendant U.S. Security Associate's ("U.S. Security") Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11).


On October 14, 2009, Plaintiffs Andrew and Genevieve Sabric, as co-executors of the estate of Deborah Bachak ("Plaintiffs' Decendent"), filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County. (Doc. 1, Ex. A.) Plaintiffs' Decedent was an employee of Lockheed Martin. (Id. at ¶ 10.) Lockheed Martin hired U.S. Security to provide uniformed and armed guard services at Lockheed Martin's facility in Archbald, Pennsylvania; one of U.S. Security's employees, George P. Zadolnny, became romantically involved with Plaintiffs' Decedent. (Id. at ¶¶ 8-11.) This relationship ended in October 2008, at which point Zaldonny began to act in abusive manner toward Plaintiffs' Decedent while working at Lockheed Martin's facility. (Id. at ¶ 11-12.) On December 16, 2008, an argument, allegedly witnessed by several Lockheed Martin employees, took place between Zaldonny and Plaintiffs' Decedent, at which point Zaldonny drew his weapon, shot Plaintiffs' Decedent five (5) times, and then shot himself; both Zaldonny and Plaintiffs' Decedent died as a result. (Id. at ¶ 15.) Plaintiffs allege that both Lockheed Martin and U.S. Security knew of the romantic relationship between Zaldonny and Plaintiffs' Decedent, that Zaldonny had began acting in an abusive manner toward Plaintiffs' Decedent following the break-up, that Plaintiffs' Decedent was not safe, and that both Defendants ignored this information and took no action to protect Plaintiffs' Decedent. (Id. at ¶¶ 21-23, 30-32.)

Against Lockheed Martin, Plaintiffs allege negligence (Count I), vicarious liability (Count IV), wrongful death (Count VI), and a survival action (Count VII). Against U.S. Security, Plaintiffs allege negligence (Count II), assault and battery (Count III), vicarious liability (Count V), wrongful death (Count VI), and a survival action (Count VII). In Counts I and II, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants breached their duty of care to "provide for and maintain a safe working environment." (Compl. ¶¶ 18-19, 27.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendants had actual and/or constructive notice of the unsafe workplace, but failed to take any action to remedy the dangerous condition "with conscious disregard or reckless indifference to [Lockheed Martin's] employees' safety." (Id. at ¶¶ 23, 34.)

Plaintiffs list the following acts and omissions on the part of Lockheed Martin as being the proximate cause of the Plaintiffs' Decedent's death: 1) hiring U.S. Security when Lockheed Martin should have known in the exercise of reasonable care that Zaldonny posed a threat to Lockheed Martin's employees, 2) failing to ensure that security policies and procedures were followed, 3) having inadequate policies with respect to security, 4) failing to provide an adequate security awareness program, 5) failing to report Zaldonny's abusive behavior toward Decedent to U.S. Securities or the proper authorities, 6) failing to monitor the actions of Zaldonny, 7) failing to provide assault-avoidance materials, counseling or instruction to Lockheed Martin's employees, including Plaintiffs' Decedent, when it knew or had reason to know that Zaldonny was acting in an abusive manner toward Plaintiffs' Decedent. (Id. at ¶ 22.)

In Count IV, Plaintiffs incorporated all the preceding paragraphs in the complaint by reference, including those comprising Count I, and allege that Lockheed Martin was acting through its employees and agents, who were acting in the scope of their employment, and that Lockheed Martin is vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of its employees. (Compl. ¶¶ 43-45.)

On November 3, 2009, Defendant Lockheed Martin filed a Petition for Removal based on diversity of citizenship; on November 9, 2009, this Court issued a Memorandum Order denying the petition for removal due to defects in the allegations of diversity. On November 13, 2009, Lockheed Martin filed an Amended Notice of Removal, arguing that Lockheed Martin's principal place of business is, in fact, Bethesda, Maryland, thereby creating complete diversity of citizenship. On November 17, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand, arguing that Lockheed Martin had not met its burden of proving that its principal place of business is in Maryland, and that diversity was not destroyed. This Court denied the Motion to Remand on February 10, 2010. (Doc. 14.)

On November 20, 2009, Lockheed Martin filed a motion to: 1) dismiss Count I for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, 2) strike Count I for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,*fn1 3) to dismiss Count IV for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, 4) for a more definite statement in Count IV pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e), 5) to strike punitive damages for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted,*fn2 6) to dismiss Count VI and Count VII for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, and 7) to strike paragraph 61(e) of the Complaint as being immaterial and impertinent. On December 23, 2009, U.S. Security filed its motion seeking to have any claims for punitive damages dismissed.

Both motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.


I. Motion to Dismiss

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997)). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009).

When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining whether a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

II. Motion to Strike

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) ...

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