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.

Hejnal v. U.S. Xpress Inc

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 24, 2018

DONALD EDWARD HEJNAL, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. XPRESS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This 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 all respects.

         I. Background

         This 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.

         Plaintiff 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.

         Count I of the complaint asserts a negligence claim against defendant Williams, [1] 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 punitive damages.

         Defendant 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.

         Finally, 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.

         II. Legal Standard

         “A 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).

         A 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.

         The 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.

         In 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 omitted).

         III. Discussion

         A. “Boilerplate” Allegations, Counts II-V

         Defendant 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.

         As 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).[2] This aspect of defendant's motion will be denied.

         B. Counts ...


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.