Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Muniz v. Stober

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 5, 2019

JOSE MUNIZ Plaintiff,
v.
STÖBER; STÖBER ANTRIEBSTECHNIK GMBH CO. KG; BREYER GMBH MASCHINENFABRIK; KLÜBER LUBRICATION NA LP; ABC, INC. I-V; AND JOHN DOE I-V, BEING FICTICIOUS, JOINTLY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THE ALTERNATIVE, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          SCHMEHL, J.

         Plaintiff Jose Muniz brings strict liability and negligence claims under New Jersey law[1] against Defendants STÖBER, STÖBER Antriebstechnik GmbH Co. KG, BREYER GmbH Maschinenfabrik, Klüber Lubrication NA LP, ABC, INC. (I-V), and John Doe (I-V) (collectively “Defendants”), following Mr. Muniz's injury while using a cross cutting machine. Defendant Klüber Lubrication NA LP (“Klüber”) now moves to dismiss the complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and failure to provide a short plain statement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). For the reasons below, Klüber's motion is granted but Mr. Muniz may amend his complaint within 30 days from the date of this opinion. If Mr. Muniz fails to amend his complaint within 30 days, the claims against Klüber will be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On or about December 13, 2016, Plaintiff Jose Muniz sustained serious injuries while using “a cross cutting machine.” (ECF Docket No. 1, ¶13.) Mr. Muniz brings this action against Defendants alleging strict products liability and negligence. On Count I, Mr. Muniz alleges Defendants were “engaged in the design, manufacture, fabrication, assembly, sale, lease, repair and/or maintenance of a Breyer Cross Cutting Saw, and/or component parts.” (Id. at ¶12.) Mr. Muniz also alleges the Breyer Company Cross Cutting Saw and its component parts “were not reasonably fit, suitable or safe for their intended purpose in that they: (a) deviated from the design specification, formulae, or performance standards of the manufacturer or from otherwise identical units manufactured to the same manufacturing specifications or formulae, or (b) failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions, or (c) were designed in a defective manner, and therefore, were defective products.” (Id. at ¶14.) On Count II, Mr. Muniz alleges negligence against Defendant Palram Americas[2] for allegedly providing the Breyer Cross Cutting Saw to Mr. Muniz and “inherently expos[ing] [Mr. Muniz] to knowing and foreseeable risks of harm by removing, disengaging, suspending, altering, or damaging the machines safety and warning mechanisms.” (Id. at ¶17.)

         On January 24, 2019, Klüber moved to dismiss Mr. Muniz's complaint for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and failure to provide a short plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). (ECF Docket No. 7.) On November 12, 2018, the parties stipulated to dismiss Mr. Muniz's claims against Defendant SUNTUF, USA. (ECF Docket No. 3.) On December 3, 2018, the parties stipulated to dismiss Mr. Muniz's claims against Defendant Palram Americas. (ECF Docket No. 4.) And on May 24, 2019, the parties stipulated to dismiss the claims against Defendants BREYER GmbH and BREYER Extrusion Lines. (ECF Docket No. 20.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies the plausibility standard when the facts alleged “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Burtch v. Millberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 220-21 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). While the plausibility standard is not “akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” there nevertheless must be more than a “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The Court of Appeals requires us to apply a three-step analysis under a 12(b)(6) motion: (1) “it must ‘tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim;'” (2) “it should identify allegations that, ‘because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth;'” and, (3) “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief.” Connelly v. Lane Construction Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675, 679); see also Burtch, 662 F.3d at 221; Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011); Santiago v. Warminster Township, 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendant Klüber contends that Mr. Muniz fails plead a plausible right to relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF Docket No. 7, at 3.) Klüber also alleges Mr. Muniz's complaint contains numerous allegations that are not connected to any cause of action and contain conclusory statements in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). (Id. at 6-7.) We agree that Mr. Muniz fails to plead a plausible right to relief and fails to provide a short plain statement showing that he is entitled to relief. But, Mr. Muniz is entitled to leave to amend the complaint.

         A. Sufficiency of Allegations for Strict Products Liability under Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 8(a)

         Mr. Muniz's complaint alleges that Klüber, among other Defendants, “engaged in the design, manufacture, fabrication, assembly, sale, lease, repair and/or maintenance of a Breyer Cross Cutting Saw, and/or component parts thereof.” (ECF Docket No. 1, ¶12.) Specifically, on December 13, 2016, Mr. Muniz sustained “serious injuries while using a cross cutting machine.” (Id. at ¶ 13.) Mr. Muniz contends the Breyer Company Cross Cutting Saw and its component parts were not “reasonably fit, suitable or safe for their intended purpose in that they: (a) deviated from the design specification, formulae, or performance standards of the manufacturer or from otherwise identical units manufactured to the same manufacturing specifications or formulae, or (b) failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions, or (c) were designed in a defective manner, and therefore, were defective products.” (Id. at ¶14.) As count I of Mr. Muniz's complaint alleges strict liability, we analyze the complaint under this area of tort law.

         Pennsylvania adopted Section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which “imposes strict liability in tort not only for injuries caused by the defective manufacture of products, but also for injuries caused by defects in their design.” Mracek v. Bryn Mawr Hosp., 610 F.Supp.2d 401, 404 (E.D. Pa. 2009) (quoting Lewis v. Coffing Hoist Div., Duff- Norton Co., 528 A.2d 590, 592 (Pa. 1987); see also Webb v. Zern, 220 A.2d 853 (1966); Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., 628 Pa. 296 (Pa. 2014) (overruling Azzarello v. Black Bros. Co., 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1978); DeJesus v. Knight Industries & Associates, Inc., 599 Fed.Appx. 454, 455 (3d Cir. 2015). Strict liability under Section 402A allows recovery where the injury was caused by a product in “a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer.”[3] Smith v. Howmedica Osteonics Corp., 251 F.Supp.3d 844, 847 (E.D. Pa. 2017) (quoting Phillips v. A-Best Prod. Co., 665 A.2d 1167, 1170-71 (Pa. 1995)).

         Under Pennsylvania law, a products liability action requires plaintiff demonstrate that: “(1) the product was defective; (2) the defect existed while the product was in the control of the manufacturer; and (3) the defect was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries.” Mracek, 610 F.Supp.2d at 404 (citing Walton v. Avco Corp., 610 A.2d 454, 458- 59 (Pa. 1992). “A product is defective ‘when it is not safe for its intended use.'” Parr v. Ford Motor Co., 109 A.3d 682, 689 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2014) (quoting Weiner v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 718 A.2d 305, 308 (Pa. Super. 1998). A manufacturing defect may be established one of two ways: direct or circumstantial evidence. Smith, 251 F.Supp.3d at 851 (quoting Riley v. Warren Mfg., Inc., 688 A.2d 221, 224 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1997). Direct evidence requires evidence of “a breakdown in the machine or a component thereof”; and circumstantial evidence requires plaintiff ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.