United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
diversity matter is before the Court on defendant U.S.
Xpress, Inc.'s (“defendant” or “U.S.
XPress”) motion for judgment on the pleadings under
Rule 12(c), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and,
alternatively, to strike certain allegations pursuant to Rule
12(f). Plaintiff Donald Edward Hejnal
(“plaintiff”) opposes the motion and it is fully
briefed. For the following reasons, the motion will denied in
action for personal injuries asserts state law claims arising
out of a motor vehicle accident. The First Amended Complaint
(“complaint”) alleges that on February 15, 2014,
defendant Janine Evelyn Williams was driving a
tractor-trailer owned and/or operated by defendant U.S.
Xpress, Inc., traveling westbound on Interstate 44 in
Franklin County, Missouri. Complaint ¶¶ 23-25.
Plaintiff alleges he was traveling westbound on Interstate 44
at the same time, and Williams changed lanes into the right
lane without noticing plaintiff's vehicle, causing the
tractor-trailer and plaintiff's vehicle to collide.
Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Plaintiff alleges he
suffered painful, permanent, and disabling injuries as a
result. Id. ¶¶ 28, 30.
alleges that defendant is an interstate commercial motor
carrier and at all times relevant to the case was acting
individually and through its drivers, agents, servants,
and/or employees, each of whom were acting within the course
and scope of their employment with defendant. Id.
¶ 18. Plaintiff alleges that at the time of the crash,
Williams was hired by defendant and was operating the
tractor-trailer in the course and scope of her employment
with defendant. Id. ¶¶ 19, 22. Plaintiff
alleges that the negligence of defendant and its drivers,
agents, servants, and employees caused or contributed to
cause his injuries, which are both physical and emotional.
Id. ¶¶ 29-30.
of the complaint asserts a negligence claim against defendant
Williams,  and Count II asserts a vicarious
liability/respondeat superior claim against U.S. XPress based
on Williams's acts of negligence committed within the
course and scope of her agency and employment with defendant.
Counts III, IV, and V assert claims against U.S. Xpress for
negligent hiring/retention, negligent training, and negligent
entrustment, respectively. Plaintiff seeks actual and
moves for judgment on the pleadings on Counts II through V on
the grounds that the complaint consists of “boilerplate
allegations lifted wholesale from other pleadings even though
they are not appropriate to this action, and therefore fail
to meet the pleadings standard of Rule 8, ” and that
plaintiff pleads no facts specific to it that are sufficient
to state a claim under any of the theories pleaded. Defendant
also asserts, “additionally or in the alternative,
” that it is entitled to judgment on Counts III, IV,
and V because plaintiff fails to plead any facts sufficient
to state a claim against it.
in the alternative, defendant moves to strike plaintiff's
allegations regarding alleged violations of the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”) because (1)
the FMCSR does not provide a private cause of action and
therefore references to it do not establish plaintiff's
alleged causes of action and are unnecessary and immaterial,
and/or (2) plaintiff has not pleaded facts in support of any
alleged violation of the FMCSR.
motion for judgment on the pleadings should be granted when,
accepting all facts pled by the nonmoving party as true and
drawing all reasonable inferences from the facts in favor of
the nonmoving party, the movant has clearly established that
no material issue of fact remains and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Schnuck
Markets, Inc. v. First Data Merchant Servs. Corp., 852
F.3d 732, 737 (8th Cir. 2017) (cited case omitted).
motion under Rule 12(c) is determined by the same standards
that are applied to a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). Ellis
v. City of Minneapolis, 860 F.3d 1106, 1109 (8th Cir.
2017). To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted, “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 plaintiff “must include sufficient factual
information to provide the ‘grounds' on which the
claim rests, and to raise a right to relief above a
speculative level.” Schaaf v. Residential Funding
Corp., 517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3). This obligation
requires a plaintiff to plead “more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555.
Court accepts as true all of the factual allegations
contained in the complaint, even if it appears that
“actual proof of those facts is improbable, ”
id. at 556, and reviews the complaint to determine
whether its allegations show that the pleader is entitled to
relief. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56; Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). The principle that a court must accept as true all
of the allegations contained in a complaint does not apply to
legal conclusions. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
considering a Rule 12(c) motion, the Court may consider the
pleadings themselves, materials embraced by the pleadings,
exhibits attached to the pleadings, and matters of public
record. Porous Media Corp. v. Pall Corp., 186 F.3d
1077, 1079 (8th Cir. 1999). A motion for judgment on the
pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) must be treated as a motion
for summary judgment when matters outside the pleadings are
presented and not excluded by the trial court. Rule 12(d),
Fed.R.Civ.P. “Matters outside the pleadings”
include any written evidence “in support of or in
opposition to the pleading that provide[s] some
substantiation for and does not merely reiterate what is said
in the pleadings.” McAuley v. Federal Ins.
Co., 500 F.3d 784, 787 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoted case
“Boilerplate” Allegations, Counts II-V
moves for judgment on the pleadings on Counts II, III, IV,
and V asserting that plaintiff's claims lack facial
plausibility because they do not rise above the speculative
level, and plaintiff has not pleaded sufficient factual
content to allow the Court to draw a reasonable inference
that defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, as
required by the Iqbal standard. Defendant asserts
this is because the allegations in the complaint are
“merely boilerplate allegations that are word-for-word
identical to allegations in other complaints against trucking
companies filed by plaintiff's counsel, are therefore
speculative, and do not permit the Court to draw a reasonable
inference that this defendant has engaged in
the misconduct alleged.” Mem. Supp. Mot. J. Pleadings
at 4. Defendant attempts to support its argument with matters
outside the pleadings, specifically a copy of a complaint in
another case, and portions of defendant Williams's motor
vehicle record and driver's log, but the Court excludes
and does not consider these exhibits.
stated above, the complaint alleges facts concerning a
tractor-trailer owned and/or operated by defendant and its
employee or agent that collided with plaintiff's vehicle
on February 15, 2014, and resulted in injury to plaintiff.
The complaint asserts various causes of action based on the
collision. Defendant admits in its Answer that the collision
took place. Defendant cites no authority to support its
argument that the complaint fails to state a claim, or is
speculative, because the complaint's allegations are
virtually the same as those pleaded in a separate lawsuit
against another trucking company, i.e., it is a form
pleading. “It is a matter of common knowledge in the
legal community that standard form pleadings are routinely
used by cost-conscious attorneys in all types of
litigation.” Powers v. Credit Mgmt. Servs.,
Inc., 776 F.3d 567, 570 (8th Cir. 2015). This aspect of
defendant's motion will be denied.