United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
For SHAWN ARNDT, AS THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOSHUA I. ARNDT, A MINOR, DECEASED, SHAWN ARNDT, INDIVIDUALLY AND HIS OWN RIGHT, Plaintiffs: IRENE M MCLAFFERTY, LEAD ATTORNEY, PHILADELPHIA, PA; JOSEPH L. MESSA, JR., LEAD ATTORNEY, MESSA & ASSOCIATES PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA; THOMAS N. SWEENEY, LEAD ATTORNEY, MESSA & ASSOCIATES, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
For JOHNSON & JOHNSON, MCNEIL-PPC, INC., JOHNSON & JOHNSON SALES AND LOGISTICS COMPANY, LLC, Defendants: DAVID F. ABERNETHY, MELISSA A GRAFF, MEREDITH NISSEN REINHARDT, LEAD ATTORNEYS, DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA; THOMAS N. SWEENEY, MESSA & ASSOCIATES, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
For INMAR, INC., CAROLINA SUPPLY CHAIN SERVICES, LLC, CAROLINA LOGISTICS SERVICES, LLC, Defendants: DAVID NEWMANN, LEAD ATTORNEY, HOGAN LOVELLS U.S. LLP, PHILADELPHIA, PA; STEPHEN A. LONEY, JR., HOGAN & HARTSON, PHILADELPHIA, PA; THOMAS N. SWEENEY, MESSA & ASSOCIATES, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
GENE E.K. PRATTER, United States District Judge.
Shawn Arndt brought suit against the manufacturers of Infants' Tylenol following his 4-year-old son's tragic death after
ingesting one dose of the medication. The Defendants moved to dismiss his Complaint, and following oral argument on that motion, Mr. Arndt filed an Amended Complaint. The Defendants have now moved to dismiss all but one claim in the Amended Complaint, arguing that the statute of limitations bars all but Mr. Arndt's implied warranty claim. After considering the parties' briefing and hearing oral argument on November 24, 2014, the Court will grant Defendants' motion in part and deny it in part.
On November 2, 2009, Shawn Arndt, a New York citizen, purchased a bottle of Infant's Tylenol at Tops Market and administered one dose to his 4-year-old son Joshua, who had a slight fever. Within minutes, a parent's nightmare ensued when Joshua started bleeding from the nose and mouth. He was rushed to the hospital and, tragically, pronounced dead upon arrival.
In January, 2010, federal investigators evaluated the Fort Washington, PA manufacturing plant of McNEIL-PPC, a Johnson & Johnson (" J& J" ) subsidiary, and over the following months discovered a number of quality control issues. That investigation culminated in an April 30, 2010, recall of defective lots of Infants' Tylenol and other children's medication. The recall covered the bottle purchased by Mr. Arndt. J& J also shut down its manufacturing facility at Fort Washington, where Infants' Tylenol was made. Thereafter, during a Congressional investigation, it came to light that McNEIL's Fort Washington plant, where various children's medications were manufactured, including Infants' Tylenol, had had pervasive quality control problems for several years, including well before the death of Joshua Arndt, and that J& J knew of these issues, failed to remedy the problems and/or took steps that potentially exacerbated them, and failed to inform the public. Moreover, the investigation also disclosed that with the help of former Defendants Inmar, Carolina Logistics, and Carolina Supply Chain Services (the " Inmar Defendants" ), McNEIL and J& J had planned and implemented a stealth or phantom recall of various children's medication some time before September, 2009. Indeed, in September, 2009, J& J issued a limited recall of some lots of Children's and Infants' Tylenol based on the " post-marketing safety surveillance data" collected during the phantom recall. Instead of broadly publicizing that recall, however, J& J only informed healthcare professionals.
On October 31, 2012, Mr. Arndt filed suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, asserting 19 causes of action against 16 defendants, including strict liability, negligence, consumer protection violations, recklessness, breach of express and implied warranties, civil conspiracy, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Defendants removed the litigation to this Court, and Mr. Arndt filed a motion to remand. The Court denied that motion and dismissed several fraudulently joined Defendants from the action. The Inmar Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the Court granted because there is no causal link between any " phantom recall" and Mr. Arndt's damages. J& J, McNEIL-PPC, and J& J Sales and Logistics Company (collectively referred to herein as " J& J" or the " J& J Defendants" ) also filed a motion to dismiss. After oral argument on that motion, the Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, rendering the pending motion to dismiss moot. Now pending before the Court is the J& J's second motion to dismiss.
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Although Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
requires only " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), " in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests,'" Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (citation omitted) (alteration in original), the plaintiff must provide " more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do," id.
To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must plead " factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Specifically, " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The question is not whether the claimant " will ultimately prevail . . . but whether his complaint [is] sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold." Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 131 S.Ct. 1289, 1296, 179 L.Ed.2d 233 (2011) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, assessment of the sufficiency of a complaint is " a context-dependent exercise" because " [s]ome claims require more factual explication than others to state a plausible claim for relief." W. Penn Allegheny Health Sys., Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98 (3d Cir. 2010).
In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court adheres to certain well-recognized parameters. For one, the Court " must consider only those facts alleged in the complaint and accept all of the allegations as true." ALA, Inc. v. CCAIR, Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir. 1994); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (stating that courts must " assum[e] that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)" ); Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010) (" [A] court must consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, as well as undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents." ). Also, the Court must accept as true all reasonable inferences emanating from the allegations, and view those facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Rocks v. City of Philadelphia, 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989); see also Revell v. Port Auth., 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010). That admonition does not demand that the Court ignore or disregard reality. The Court " need not accept as true unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences," Doug Grant, Inc. v. Greate Bay Casino Corp., 232 F.3d 173, 183-84 (3d Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted), and " the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678; see also Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (explaining ...