United States District Court, D. Maryland
CLARA DANIELS, ET AL.
THE CARTER-JONES LUMBER COMPANY, ET AL.
L. Hollander, United States District Judge.
April 10, 2017, plaintiffs Clara and Robert Daniels filed
suit against three defendants: The Carter-Jones Lumber
Company (“Carter-Jones Lumber”); E3 Holdings, LLC
(“EnerLux”); and “John Doe” as
“Owner Of Transport Company.” ECF 1. Plaintiffs
seek damages for negligence, negligent supervision, and loss
of consortium as a result of an accident that occurred on
April 11, 2014, during the course of delivery of home
windows. Id. Subject matter jurisdiction is founded on
diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Amended Complaint filed on August 31, 2017 (ECF 26),
i.e., after the expiration of the statute of
limitations, plaintiffs identified J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc.
as the third defendant. J.B. Hunt has moved to dismiss the
claims against it, arguing that, under Maryland's statute
of limitations, the suit was untimely filed. ECF 31
(“Motion”). Plaintiffs oppose the Motion (ECF
33), supported by a memorandum (ECF 33-1) (collectively,
“Opposition”). J.B. Hunt has replied. ECF 34; ECF
34-1 (collectively, “Reply”).
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rules 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant
J.B. Hunt's Motion.
plaintiffs, who are domiciled in West Virginia, purchased
custom manufactured windows from EnerLux for a home then
under construction in West Virginia. ECF 26, ¶¶ 4,
5, 12, 15, 16. EnerLux hired J.B. Hunt to deliver the windows
to Carter-Jones Lumber, a building supply company, which was
to store the windows at its premises in Hagerstown, Maryland,
until they were ready for installation. Id.
¶¶ 12, 16, 17, 19, 70. On April 11, 2014,
plaintiffs arrived at Carter-Jones Lumber to inspect the
windows. Id. ¶¶ 18, 20. J.B. Hunt's
tractor trailer was backed into a loading bay. Id.
¶ 23. Ms. Daniels was concerned about the way in which
the windows were packed (id. ¶ 23), and climbed
aboard J.B. Hunt's tractor trailer in an attempt to
determine whether any windows had been damaged “because
of the negligent packing . . . .” Id. ¶
28. Plaintiffs allege that at some point while Ms. Daniels
was on the truck and the windows were being unloaded, several
suddenly toppled onto her, causing very serious injuries to
her. Id. ¶¶ 29-36.
April 10, 2017, just before the expiration of the three-year
statute of limitations applicable for a negligence action in
Maryland, plaintiffs filed suit against EnerLux,
Carter-Jones, and “John Doe[, ] Owner of Transport
Company.” ECF 1. On July 13, 2017, plaintiffs sought to
amend their complaint to replace “John Doe” with
named defendant J.B. Hunt. ECF 22. Plaintiffs were notified
that if they wished to amend their Complaint they needed to
obtain leave of the court. ECF 23. They subsequently sought
such leave on July 21, 2017 (ECF 24), which the court granted
on August 31, 2017. ECF 25. The Amended Complaint was
docketed that same day. ECF 26. J.B. Hunt was served with a
summons on September 1, 2017. ECF 31.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In re
Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); 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 a defendant 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 Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93,
112 (4th Cir. 2017). 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)
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'” and must “‘draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); see Semenova v. Maryland Transit
Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017); Houck v.
Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir.
2015); Kendall v. Balcerzak, 650 F.3d 515, 522 (4th
Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 565 U.S. 943 (2011). But,
a court is not required to accept legal conclusions drawn
from the facts. See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265,
286 (1986). “A court decides whether [the pleading]
standard is met by separating the legal conclusions from the
factual allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th. Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, 566 U.S. 937 (2012).
import here, courts generally do not “resolve contests
surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses” through a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231,
243 (4th Cir. 1999); accord King v. Rubenstein, 825
F.3d 206, 214 (4th Cir. 2016). But, “in the relatively
rare circumstances where facts sufficient to rule on an
affirmative defense are alleged in the complaint, the defense
may be reached by a motion to dismiss filed under Rule
12(b)(6).” Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d
458, 464 (4th Cir. 2007) (en banc); accord Pressley v.
Tupperware Long Term Disability Plan, 533 F.3d 334, 336
(4th Cir. 2009); see also Meridian Investments, Inc. v.
Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp., 855 F.3d 573, 577 (4th Cir.
2017) (“A defendant's claim that an action is
time-barred is an affirmative defense that it can raise in a
motion to dismiss when the ‘face of the complaint
includes all necessary facts for the defense to
prevail.'”) (citation omitted). However, because
Rule 12(b)(6) “is intended [only] to test the legal
adequacy of the complaint, ” Richmond,
Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. Forst, 4 F.3d
244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993), “[t]his principle only
applies . . . if all facts necessary to the affirmative
defense ‘clearly appear[ ] on the face of the
complaint.'” Goodman, 494 F.3d at 464
(quoting Forst, 4 F.3d at 250) (emphasis added in