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Charles H. Thompson v. Med-Mizer

March 21, 2011

CHARLES H. THOMPSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
MED-MIZER, INC., AND LINAK U.S., INC., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Knoll Gardner, United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on the Motion of Moving Defendant Med-Mizer, Inc. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, which motion was filed August 30, 2010, and Defendant, Linak U.S., Inc.'s, Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which motion was filed August 31, 2010. Plaintiff's Reply to Motions to Dismiss by MedMizer, Inc. and by Linak U.S., Inc. was filed September 29, 2010.

For the following reasons, I grant each motion in part and deny each motion in part. Specifically, each motion in the nature of a motion to dismiss the negligence claim alleged in Count One of plaintiff's Amended Complaint is granted. Count One of the Amended Complaint is dismissed without prejudice for plaintiff to re-plead his negligence claim in accordance with this Opinion. In all other respects, each motion to dismiss is denied.

JURISDICTION

Jurisdiction in this case is based on diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is an individual who is a citizen of Pennsylvania. Defendant Med-Mizer is an Indiana corporation with its principal place of business in Indiana. Defendant Linak U.S., Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Kentucky. The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 exclusive of interest and costs.

VENUE

Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(2) because the events giving rise to plaintiffs' claims allegedly occurred in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which is within this judicial district.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff initiated this products liability action on May 5, 2010 by filing a three-count civil Complaint against defendants Med-Mizer, Inc. and Linak U.S., Inc. The Complaint alleged claims for negligence (Count One), strict liability under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 402A (Count Two); and strict liability under the Restatement (Third) of Torts, § 2 (Count Three).*fn1 Plaintiff's claims arise from injuries sustained by plaintiff as the result of an allegedly defective retractable bed.

On June 16, 2010, defendant Med-Mizer filed a motion to dismiss Counts Two and Three. On June 30, 2010, defendant Linak filed an Answer to plaintiff's Complaint.*fn2

By Order dated July 27, 2010, I directed plaintiff to file an amended complaint for the limited purpose of properly pleading this court's subject matter jurisdiction over the action, and I dismissed Med-Mizer's motion to dismiss without prejudice to refile, if appropriate, after the filing of an amended complaint. Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint on August 20, 2010 alleging the same claims as were alleged in his original Complaint.

On August 30, 2010, defendant Med-Mizer filed its within motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety. Defendant Linak filed its motion to dismiss on August 31, 2010. Defendants' motions are substantively the same, and so I refer to them collectively. Plaintiff filed one consolidated reply to the two motions to dismiss on September 29, 2010. Hence this Opinion.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A claim may be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A 12(b)(6) motion requires the court to examine the sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, 84 (1957) (abrogated in other respects by Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). Generally, in ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court relies on the complaint, attached exhibits, and matters of public record, including other judicial proceedings. Sands v. McCormick, 502 F.3d 263, 268 (3d. Cir. 2008).

Except as provided in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9, a complaint is sufficient if it complies with Rule 8(a)(2), which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."

Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8(a)(2) "[does] not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, but only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 127 S.Ct. at 1974, 167 L.Ed.2d at 949.*fn3

In determining whether a plaintiff's complaint is sufficient, the court must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210 (citing Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)).

Although "conclusory or bare-bones allegations will [not] survive a motion to dismiss," Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210, "a complaint may not be dismissed merely because it appears unlikely that the plaintiff can prove those facts or will ultimately prevail on the merits." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231. Nonetheless, to survive a 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint must provide "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s]." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, 167 L.Ed.2d at 940) (internal quotations omitted).

The court is required to conduct a two-part analysis when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. First, the factual matters averred in the complaint, and any attached exhibits, should be separated from legal conclusions asserted therein. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. Any facts pled must be taken as true, and any legal conclusions asserted may be disregarded.

Id. at 210-211. Second, the court must determine whether those factual matters averred are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, __ U.S. at __, 129 S.Ct. at 1950, 178 L.Ed.2d at 884).

Ultimately, this two-part analysis is "context-specific" and requires the court to draw on "its judicial experience and common sense" to determine if the facts pled in the complaint have "nudged [plaintiff's] claims" over the line from "[merely] conceivable [or possible] to plausible." Iqbal, __ U.S. at __, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-1950, 178 L.Ed.2d at 884-885. A well-pleaded complaint may not be dismissed simply because "it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is ...


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