United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
DAVID C. WALLS, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of David R. Walls, Plaintiff,
FTS INTERNATIONAL, INC., and FTS INTERNATIONAL SERVICES, LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Bissoon, United States District Judge
before the court is the Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of
FTS International, Inc. (“FTS International”),
and FTS International Services, LLC (“FTS
Services”) (collectively, “Defendants”),
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc.
12). In an amended complaint filed August 21, 2017, David C.
Walls (“Plaintiff”) asserts claims for negligence
under Pennsylvania's Wrongful Death and Survival Acts, 42
Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 8301-8302, pertaining to the
death of his son, David R. Walls (“Decedent”).
(Doc. 10). Defendants argue that the claims against FTS
Services are preempted by Pennsylvania's Worker's
Compensation Act, 77 Pa. Stat. § 1 et seq., and
that Plaintiff has failed to plead adequately a claim for
gross negligence or negligence against FTS International.
This court exercises subject-matter jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. For
the following reasons, Defendants' motion will be
following allegations appear in Plaintiff's Amended
Complaint (Doc. 10). Decedent was employed by FTS Services, a
subsidiary of FTS International. (Id. 10
¶¶ 7, 15). On June 24, 2014, Decedent was operating
a commercial vehicle owned by FTS Services. (Id.
¶¶ 6, 8). When he departed Wintersville, Ohio, for
Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, Decedent had already been on the
job for fourteen hours without any significant breaks.
(Id. ¶ 42). A coworker noted that Decedent was
visibly tired, but supervisors failed to adhere to company
policy, or state and federal regulations, when Decedent was
required to complete the trip to Eighty Four. (Id.
¶¶ 9-15, 42). While en route, Decedent fell asleep
behind the wheel, his vehicle left the road, and he died in
the ensuing accident. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 13).
International had protocols in place to ensure the safety of
drivers in these circumstances. (Id. ¶ 15).
Employees of subsidiaries, such as FTS Services, received
training pertaining to these policies. (Id. ¶
15). FTS Services and its management allegedly broke safety
protocols on a regular basis by placing drivers-like the
Decedent-on the road without adequate rest, and without
accurately logging hours already worked. (Id.
¶¶ 17-19). FTS International was purportedly aware
of the practice and did nothing to correct it. (Id.
¶¶ 17, 42). Plaintiff believes that Defendants had
a duty to provide Decedent with a safe work environment, and
that the failure to do so constituted negligence.
(Id. ¶ 17).
complaint was initially filed against Defendants in the Court
of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. (Doc. 1-2). Defendants
subsequently removed the case to this court, and the
operative amended complaint followed. The motion to dismiss
is fully briefed.
Plaintiff's negligence claims against FTS Services, it is
well-established that Pennsylvania's Worker's
Compensation Act “provides the sole remedy ‘for
personal injuries allegedly sustained during the course of
employment.'” Matczak v. Frankford Candy and
Chocolate Co., 136 F.3d 933, 940 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting
Dugan v. Bell Tel. of Pa., 876 F.Supp. 713, 723
(W.D. Pa. 1994)). Thus, any claims for injury in this Court
are barred. Hogan v. Raymond Corp., 536 Fed.Appx.
207, 210 (3d Cir. 2013) (citing Winterberg v. Transp.
Ins. Co., 72 F.3d 318, 322 (3d Cir. 1995)). Plaintiff
does not dispute the above recitation of the law; instead, he
claims that the case should be allowed to proceed to
discovery in order to uncover evidence of an exception to the
exclusivity provision of the Worker's Compensation Act.
(Doc. 14 at 3). Defendants deny that any exceptions are
applicable, based upon the facts as pleaded. (Doc. 13 at
speculates that there may exist evidence that the
“third party attack” exception applies to FTS
Services, because Decedent may have been “purposefully
placed onto the road by his supervisor who intended the harm
that followed.” (Id.). No. such facts are
alleged in the Amended Complaint. Neither does Plaintiff make
mention of any exceptions in his pleadings. Discovery should
not be utilized as a fishing expedition for facts to support
the speculative pleading of a case, particularly when the
pleading is so deficient as to justify dismissal. Onyx
Ins. Co., Inc. v. N.J. Dep't of Banking and Ins. Div.
(DOBI), 704 Fed.Appx. 110, 114 (3d Cir. 2017) (citing
Zuk v. E. Pa. Psychiatric Inst. of Med. Coll., 103
F.3d 294, 299 (3d Cir. 1996)); see also Levey v.
Brownstone Inv. Group, LLC, 590 Fed.Appx. 132, 137 (3d
Cir. 2014) (citing Ranke v. Sanofi-Synthelabo, Inc.,
436 F.3d 197, 204 (3d Cir. 2006)) (where a party has failed
to meet the pleading standard, the court should not provide
discovery in order to find a cause of action); Justiano
v. G4S Secure Solutions, Inc., 291 F.R.D. 80, 83 (D.N.J.
2013) (“Discovery should not serve as a fishing
expedition during which a party searches for evidence to
support facts not yet pleaded.”). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's claims against FTS Services will be
respect to the negligence claims against parent company FTS
International, Defendants do not argue that the Worker's
Compensation Act bars Plaintiff's claims; Defendants
contend instead that Plaintiff failed to plead facts
illustrating that FTS International owed a duty to Decedent.
(Doc. 13 at 14-16). A cause of action for negligence in
Pennsylvania “requires a showing of four elements: (1)
the defendant had a duty to conform to a certain standard of
conduct; (2) the defendants breached that duty; (3) such
breach caused the injury in question; and (4) the plaintiff
incurred actual loss or damage.” Pyeritz v.
Com., 32 A.3d 687, 692 (Pa. 2011) (citing Krentz v.
Consol. Rail Corp., 910 A.2d 20, 27 (Pa. 2006)). Thus,
the existence of a duty is integral to a negligence claim.
is correct that § 323 of the Restatement (Second) of
Torts was adopted by the courts in Pennsylvania, and provides
One who undertakes, gratuitously or for consideration, to
render services to another which he should recognize as
necessary for the protection of the other's person or
things, is subject to liability to the other for physical
harm resulting from his failure to exercise reasonable care
to perform his undertaking, if
(a) his failure to exercise such care increases the risk of
such harm, or
(b) the harm is suffered because of the other's reliance