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Parrott v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

July 18, 2019

ONILEA PARROTT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Pending is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Doc. #7. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 11, 2017, Claude Dean Parrott was involved in an automobile accident involving a vehicle driven by United States Postal Service (“USPS”) employee Kristal Lockhart, and as a result of the injuries he sustained, Parrott died. In January 2019, Onilea Parrott (decedent's wife); Dwight Parrott, Marlin Parrott, and Monte Parrott (decedent's children); Tabatha Parrott (decedent's daughter-in-law); and Monte and Tabatha Parrott LLC (“the LLC”) filed this lawsuit pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). In Count I, all Plaintiffs seek damages pursuant to Missouri's wrongful death statute. In Count II, Monte Parrott, Tabatha Parrott, and the LLC seek recovery of the fair market value of the vehicle (a 1997 Ford L8000 Dump Truck) that was damaged in the accident. Defendant moves to dismiss all claims brought by Tabatha Parrott and the LLC and Count II in its entirety.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Defendant moves to dismiss certain claims arguing the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over those claims. When considering a “factual attack” to jurisdiction, “the court considers matters outside the pleadings….” Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 729 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990). This Court “is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case.” Id. at 730 (quoting Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977)). “[N]o presumptive truthfulness attaches to the plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.” Id. The burden of proving jurisdiction exists rests with the plaintiff. Id.

         Defendant moves to dismiss other claims arguing Plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The liberal pleading standard created by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires Aa short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only 'give the defendant fair notice of what the…claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Id. (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Court Amust accept as true…the complaint's factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff[ ].” Stodghill v. Wellston Sch. Dist., 512 F.3d 472, 476 (8th Cir. 2008).

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. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. 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.

Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

[A] court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible if it allows a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the conduct alleged. See Horras v. Am. Capital Strategies, Ltd., 729 F.3d 798, 801 (8th Cir. 2013).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Count I

         Defendant moves to dismiss Tabatha Parrott's and the LLC's claims in Count I because they are not eligible to bring a wrongful death action. In Count I, all Plaintiffs allege they “are the only persons entitled to bring this action for the wrongful death of Claude Dean Parrott pursuant to Missouri Revised Statute § 537.080.” Doc. #1, at 1.[1]Missouri's wrongful death statute sets forth classes of individuals who are entitled to file suit. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.080. The first class includes “[t]he spouse or children or the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, ...


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