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Courtney v. Ivanov

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 23, 2015




I. Introduction

This personal injury action arises from a traffic accident involving two tractor-trailers on Interstate 80. Pending before the Court is a motion for partial dismissal (ECF No. 61) of Plaintiffs’ amended complaint (ECF No. 58) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by Defendants Prompt Logistics (USA) and Prompt Logistics (Canada) (collectively “Prompt Logistics”). Specifically, Prompt Logistics moves to dismiss two claims in the amended complaint: (1) paragraphs 89-94 and 98 of Count VI and (2) Count VII in its entirety. Prompt Logistics’ motion involves a question previously decided by this Court in Defendant Freightlion Logistics’ motion to dismiss-whether 49 U.S.C. § 14704(a)(2) creates a private right of action for a personal injury claim. See Courtney v. Ivanov, 41 F.Supp. 3d 453, 455 (W.D. Pa. 2014). In a prior memorandum opinion, this Court concluded that the statute does not create a private cause of action and dismissed Count X of Plaintiffs’ original complaint, but permitted Plaintiffs to file an amended complaint asserting violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”) as a factual basis for Plaintiffs’ common law negligence claims. (See ECF No. 57). Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on September 8, 2014, to which Prompt Logistics filed the pending motion for partial dismissal. Having reviewed the motion and briefs, and in light of this Court’s previous decision and the applicable case law, the Court will DENY Prompt Logistics’ motion to dismiss paragraphs 89-94 and 98 of Count VI[1], and will DENY Prompt Logistics’ motion to dismiss Count VII of the amended complaint.

II. Jurisdiction

The Court has diversity jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial portion of the events giving rise to the claims occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

III. Background

This case involves personal injuries and property damage sustained when a tractor-trailer, owned by Plaintiff Kreilkamp Trucking, Inc. and driven by Plaintiff Eddie L. Courtney, Jr., collided with a tractor-trailer owned by Defendant Victor Motryuk and driven by Defendant Yuriy Ivanov. The Court previously set forth the following facts, which Plaintiffs have again alleged in their amended complaint, and which the Court will accept as true for the sole purpose of deciding the pending motion to dismiss.

The Defendants in this case operated under certain contracts and agreements with one another to transport and deliver cargo. (ECF No. 58, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-19). On August 2, 2012, Defendant Ivanov was driving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 80. (Id. ¶ 22). Defendant Ivanov stopped his tractor-trailer in the West-bound, right-hand lane of Interstate 80, without warning and without activating any kind of signal device or light. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25). Plaintiff Courtney, who was also driving his tractor-trailer in the Westbound, right-hand lane of Interstate 80, collided with the rear of Defendant Ivanov’s tractor-trailer. (Id. ¶¶ 21, 26). As a result of the collision, Plaintiff Courtney suffered personal injuries, and the tractor-trailer that he was driving sustained property damage. (Id. ¶¶ 31-39). The amended complaint alleges that, at the time of the collision, Defendants Ivanov and Motryuk were agents, servants, or employees of Prompt Logistics. (Id. ¶ 29).

On September 27, 2013, Plaintiffs filed an eleven-count complaint. (ECF No. 1). Among other things, Plaintiffs asserted a claim in Count X for damages under the Motor Carrier Act, 49 U.S.C. §§ 10101 et seq. (“MCA”), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”). (Id. ¶¶ 103-112). Defendant Freightlion filed a motion for partial dismissal (ECF No. 7), which the Court granted, dismissing Count X of the complaint (see ECF No. 57). Plaintiffs then filed an amended complaint (ECF No. 58) incorporating allegations of FMCSR violations into their negligence claims, which Prompt Logistics now moves to dismiss (ECF No. 61). The parties have fully briefed the Court (see ECF Nos. 63, 71, 82), and this matter is ripe for adjudication.

IV. Standard of Review

The Prompt Logistic Defendants have moved to dismiss certain claims in Plaintiffs’ amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) allows a party to seek dismissal of a complaint or any portion of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Although the federal pleading standard has been “in the forefront of jurisprudence in recent years, ” the standard of review for a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge is now well established. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 209 (3d Cir. 2009).

In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, a district court must conduct a two-part analysis. First, the court must separate the factual matters averred from the legal conclusions asserted. See Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. Second, the court must determine whether the factual matters averred are sufficient to show that plaintiff has a “plausible claim for relief.” Id. at 211 (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). The complaint need not include “detailed factual allegations.” Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

Moreover, the court must construe the alleged facts, and draw all inferences gleaned therefrom, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See id. at 228 (citing Worldcom, Inc. v. Graphnet, Inc., 343 F.3d 651, 653 (3d Cir. 2003)). However, “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action . . . do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Rather, the complaint must present sufficient “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239, 263 n.27 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

Ultimately, whether a plaintiff has shown a “plausible claim for relief” is a “context specific” inquiry that requires the district court to “draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. The relevant record under consideration includes the complaint and any “document integral or explicitly relied on in the complaint.” U.S. Express Lines, Ltd. v. Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002) (citing In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997)). If a complaint is vulnerable to dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the district court must permit a curative amendment, irrespective of ...

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