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Bragg v. Harco Distributors, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

February 5, 2014

HENNON BRAGG, Plaintiff,
v.
HARCO DISTRIBUTORS, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Hennon Bragg sued Harco Distributors, Inc. ("Harco") for negligence and other related claims. Pending is Harco's motion to dismiss the amended complaint.[1] For the following reasons, Harco's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background[2]

Bragg is a resident of Massachusetts and has been a commercial truck driver for 27 years. ECF No. 9 ¶¶ 4, 6. Harco is incorporated in Maryland and has its principal place of business in Harford County, Maryland. Id. ¶ 5. On January 15, 2011, Bragg was driving his tractor trailer on his regular route from Bordentown, New Jersey to Maryland for a delivery. Id. ¶ 7. On Route 40 West in Cecil County, Maryland, Bragg made a U-turn after observing that there was no oncoming traffic within "at least a quarter of a mile." Id. ¶ 8. While Bragg was making the U-turn, a car driven by Jesse Reynolds "approached at a high rate of speed, " and collided with Bragg's tractor trailer. Id. ¶ 9. Reynolds's car traveled underneath the tractor trailer and exited the other side, removing the top of the car. Id. Bragg was not physically injured in the crash. Id. ¶ 10. Reynolds did not survive. Id. At the time of the crash, Reynolds was employed by Harco and was driving a vehicle with the Pepsi logo "in the scope of his employment." Id. ¶ 11. Reynolds was traveling "at an extremely high rate of speed, " well over the 45 mile per hour speed limit. Id. ¶ 12.

On April 10, 2011, Bragg's commercial driver's license ("CDL") was suspended pending a detailed investigation of the collision. ECF No. 9 ¶ 14. During this time, he was unable to pursue his regular employment as a commercial truck driver. Id. On October 25, 2011, after the completion of the investigation, Bragg "was exonerated from any liability." Id. ¶ 15. The investigation concluded that Reynolds was traveling at a high rate of speed, and he was under the influence of a potentially lethal amount of oxycodone. Id. ¶ 15. In November 2011, Bragg's driving privileges were reinstated. Id. ¶ 16. As a result of the accident, Bragg was "in immediate fear of his life" and suffered "extreme emotional distress, loss of sleep, anxiety and major inconvenience." Id. ¶ 17. While his CDL license was suspended, Bragg lost $32, 500 in income. Id.

On July 3, 2013, Bragg sued Harco for negligence. ECF No. 1. On August 7, 2013, Harco moved to dismiss the complaint. ECF No. 5. On September 5, 2013, Bragg filed an amended complaint. ECF No. 9.[3] On September 17, 2013, Harco moved to dismiss the amended complaint. ECF No. 10. On October 2, 2013, Bragg opposed the motion. ECF No. 11. On October 21, 2013, Harco replied. ECF No. 12.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard

1. Failure to State a Claim

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), an action may be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint, but does not "resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.2006).

The Court bears in mind that Rule 8(a)(2) requires only a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Migdal v. Rowe Price-Fleming Int'l Inc., 248 F.3d 321, 325-26 (4th Cir. 2001). Although Rule 8's notice-pleading requirements are "not onerous, " the plaintiff must allege facts that support each element of the claim advanced. Bass v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 764-65 (4th Cir. 2003). These facts must be sufficient to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

This requires that the plaintiff do more than "plead[] facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability'"; the facts pled must "allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) ( quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). The complaint must not only allege but also "show" that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Id. at 679 (internal quotation marks omitted). "Whe[n] the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).

2. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), the Court must dismiss an action if it discovers it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff has the burden of proving that the Court has jurisdiction, and the Court must make all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003), aff'd, 85 F.Appx. 960 (4th Cir. 2004). The Court may "look beyond the pleadings" to decide whether it has ...


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