United States District Court, D. Maryland
WILLIAM L. BYARD, JR., et al . Plaintiffs,
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC., Defendant.
L. Hollander United States District Judge
William L. Byard, Jr.; Carrie L. Byard; and Robert L. Byard,
the adult children of the late William L. Byard
(“Decedent”), filed suit against Honeywell
International Inc. (“Honeywell”), defendant, on
March 15, 2016. ECF 1 (“Complaint”). Plaintiffs
assert tort claims against Honeywell arising from the death
of the Decedent in 2013. Id.
manufactured chromium, a heavy metal, at a plant in
Baltimore, and the manufacturing process resulted, among
other things, in the production of a carcinogenic toxic
waste, known as chromium ore processing residues
(“COPR”). Plaintiffs claim that Honeywell stored
and dumped COPR on land that was adjacent to, and later
became part of, the Dundalk Marine Terminal
(“DMT”), where the Decedent worked as a
longshoreman from 1969 to 2011. According to plaintiffs, the
Decedent developed lung cancer as a result of his exposure to
has moved to dismiss (ECF 10), pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 10-1)
(collectively, the “Motion”) and exhibits. ECF
10-2; ECF 10-3. According to defendant, plaintiffs'
claims are “time-barred by Maryland's 20-year
statute of repose . . . .” ECF 10-1 at 12. See
Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol., 2016 Supp.), § 5- 108(a) of
the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article
(“C.J.”). Plaintiffs oppose the Motion (ECF 13,
“Opposition”) and defendant replied. ECF 14.
December 5, 2016, Honeywell submitted a “Notice of
Supplemental Authority” (ECF 15), notifying the Court
of the Fourth Circuit's decision in Leichling v.
Honeywell International, Inc., ____ F.3d____, 2016 WL
7030628 (4th Cir. Dec. 2, 2016). Honeywell argues that the
Fourth Circuit's opinion in Leichling
“compels dismissal of this case . . . .”
Id. at 2. Plaintiffs responded on December 6, 2016,
arguing that the Leichling case is distinguishable
on several grounds. ECF 16. Defendant replied on December 7,
2016. ECF 17.
Motion is fully briefed and no hearing is necessary to
resolve it. See Local Rule 105.6. I conclude that
the case sub judice is squarely governed by
Leichling, and I shall grant the Motion.
1845 until 1954, the Mutual Chemical Company, which, through
mergers and acquisitions was subsequently acquired by
Honeywell, operated “one of the world's largest
chromium ore processing and chromium product manufacturing
plants on a site “commonly known today as Harbor Point,
” in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore. ECF 1,
¶¶ 7-8. “Honeywell's chromium ore
processing and chromium production were waste-intensive
processes that generated massive quantities of toxic,
carcinogenic, chromium-contaminated COPR wastes.”
Id. ¶ 9.
was established around 1960 by the Maryland Port Authority,
which is now the Maryland Port Administration.”
Id. ¶ 11. Honeywell owned approximately 85
acres of land adjacent to the DMT, which originally consisted
of marshland and shallow water abutting the Patapsco River.
Id. Beginning around 1920, Honeywell used that site
to “dispose of the vast quantities of toxic,
hexavalent-chromium-contaminated COPR waste generated at its
Harbor Point plant.” Id. ¶¶ 6, 11.
And, at least since the 1930s Honeywell knew of the
carcinogenic dangers posed by COPR. Id. ¶ 10.
As a result of defendant's disposal of COPR, Honeywell
expanded the acreage of its property. Id.
1967, the Maryland Port Administration acquired
Honeywell's 85 acres of land. Id. ¶ 12. As
part of the agreement, Honeywell retained the right to use
five acres to dump COPR. Id. Until 1976, Honeywell
continued to use the site to dump COPR. Id.
¶¶ 13-14. In 2006, environmental investigators
estimated that Honeywell had dumped approximately 2.5 million
cubic yards of COPR, or 3.25 million tons, covering a 148
acre area. Id. ¶ 15.
COPR waste contained “substantial quantities of toxic,
hexavalent chromium.” Id. ¶ 16.
“Hexavalent chromium is known to cause lung cancer, an
increase in stomach tumors and cancers in humans and animals
exposed to hexavalent chromium via ingestion, and other
cancers.” Id. ¶ 23. In 1972, Honeywell
pled guilty to 12 counts of a federal criminal indictment
charging violations of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation
Act of 1899. Id. ¶ 27. It paid a substantial
fine because of its pollution activities. Id.
noted, the Decedent worked as a longshoreman at the DMT from
1969 until his retirement in 2011, and worked adjacent to the
site that Honeywell used to dump its COPR waste. Id.
¶¶ 1, 6. While the Decedent worked at the DMT,
“large volumes of COPR waste were frequently left in
uncovered piles for extended periods of time at and adjacent
to the docks, piers, wharves and other work areas at the
facility.” Id. ¶ 17. Environmental
factors, including wind and erosion, “caused hazardous
substances to spread throughout the DMT, so that workers,
including [the Decedent], were exposed to hexavalent chromium
and other hazardous substances contained within the dust,
dirt, and other releases from the disposal areas.”
Id. ¶ 19. In addition, “hexavalent
chromium-contaminated groundwater leaked into the drinking
water distribution system . . . .” Id. ¶
Decedent was diagnosed with lung cancer on April 23, 2013.
Id. ¶ 6. He died on May 19, 2013, at the age of
Standard of Review
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). Goines v.
Valley Cmty, Servs, Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir.
2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408
(4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. McBurney v.
Young, ____ U.S.____, 133 S.Ct. 1709 (2013); Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999).
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a
defendant that, even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are
true, the complaint fails as a matter of law “to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Whether a
complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by reference
to the pleading requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It
provides that a complaint must contain a “short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” The purpose of the rule is to
provide the defendants with “fair notice” of the
claims and the “grounds” for entitlement to
relief. Bell Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in
Twombly expounded the pleading standard for
‘all civil actions' . . . .” (citation
omitted)); see also Simmons v. United Mortg. & Loan
Inv., LLC, 634 F.3d 754, 768 (4th Cir. 2011). But, a
plaintiff need not include “detailed factual
allegations” in order to satisfy Rule 8(a)(2).
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, federal pleading
rules “do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for
imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim
asserted.” Johnson v. City of Shelby, U.S.,
135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).
the rule demands more than bald accusations or mere
speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see
Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v. Brown, 716 F.3d 342,
350 (4th Cir. 2013). If a complaint provides no more than
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” it
is insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather,
to satisfy the minimal requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), the
complaint must set forth “enough factual matter (taken
as true) to suggest” a cognizable cause of action,
“even if . . . ...