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Rhodes v. MCIC, Inc

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 3, 2017

ESTHER RHODES et al., Plaintiffs
v.
MCIC, INC., et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JAMES K. BREDAR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court are motions for judgment on the pleadings by Defendants Honeywell International, Incorporated, and Ingersoll Rand Company. (ECF Nos. 190, 193.) The motions have been briefed (ECF Nos. 196 & 201), and no hearing is required, Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). The motions will be granted, but Plaintiffs will be permitted to file an amended complaint.

         I. Standard for Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is assessed under the same standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). See Walker v. Kelly, 589 F.3d 127, 139 (4th Cir. 2009). 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 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Facial plausibility exists “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the Twombly opinion stated, “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” 550 U.S. at 555. “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' . . . Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557). Although when considering a motion to dismiss a court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint, this principle does not apply to legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         II. Allegations of the Complaint

         Before this case was removed to federal court, Plaintiffs filed a “Short Form Asbestos Complaint” in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. Therein, Plaintiffs alleged the following, in pertinent part:

The deceased plaintiff, EARL J. RHODES, was in the U.S. Navy and worked as a laborer and boilermaker from 1952 to 1956 onboard including, but not limited to, the USS Tarawa CV40. He was then employed as a laborer, welder and boilermaker on board numerous ships from 1956 to 1959 at Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point Shipyard and from 1959 to 1963 as a laborer at Eastern Stainless Steel. From 1963 to 1972, the deceased Plaintiff worked as a laborer and mechanic at James Gibbons Trucking, Hess Oil Company and Strescon Industries, Inc. He was also employed as a laborer, truck mechanic and salesman from 1972 to the late 1970s at Earl's Luber-Finer & Sons Sales & Service.
The deceased plaintiff, EARL J. RHODES, suffered from mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases . . . diagnosed in October, 2015.

(Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 2.) The complaint also

incorporates paragraphs one (1), two (2) and three (3) as well as Count I (Negligence), Count II (Strict Liability), Count III (Loss of Consortium), Count IV (Survival Action - Negligence), Count V (Survival Action - Strict Liability), Count X (Conspiracy) and Count XI (Fraud) of The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl Master Complaint CT-2.

(Id. unnumbered paragraph, p. 11.) In addition,

Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein by reference the allegations and claims asserted in Count VI, paragraphs 25-31 (Wrongful Death) and Count VII, paragraphs 32-34 (Wrongful Death - Strict Liability) of the CT Master Complaint.

(Id. ¶ 1 [sic], p. 12.) Otherwise, Plaintiffs made bare allegations of negligence and strict liability. (Id. ¶ 4, p. 12.)

         In their opposition to the instant motions, Plaintiffs argued the Short Form Complaint and the CT-2 Master Complaint, read together, plausibly allege their claims for relief. (Pls.' Opp'n Supp. Mem. 2-3.) After the Court directed them to do ...


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