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Edokobi v. Mondo International, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 29, 2019

MONDO INTERNATIONAL, LLC, et al., Defendants.


          Ellen Lipton Hollander United States District Judge

         This case was initiated by self-represented plaintiff Emmanuel Edokobi, who lodges multiple claims against several defendants. The claims appear to relate to a motor vehicle accident that occurred on October 24, 2015, in the course of plaintiffs employment, and for which he sought workers' compensation benefits. ECF 14 ("First Amended Complaint" or "FAC").

         Plaintiff has sued his employer, Mondo International, LLC ("Mondo"); Travelers Insurance Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co. ("Charter Oak" or "Travelers"), his employer's worker's compensation insurer[1]; Christine Wounaris, a Charter Oak .claims handler; Kathy Stone, a vocational rehabilitation specialist; and Stone's company, Stone Vocational Services, LLC ("Stone Vocational"). Id. at 1.[2]

         The FAC is almost 50 pages in length and contains 45 causes of action against defendants. ECF 14, ¶¶ 114-334. Plaintiffs original suit included 36 exhibits.[3] He appended seven more exhibits to the FAC. ECF 14-2 - ECF 14-8. Jurisdiction is founded on the basis of a federal question, under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ECF 14, ¶ 10.

         Forty-two of the counts in the FAC set forth claims that are either not cognizable as causes of action or are based on Maryland law. These include "Conspiracy to Commit Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress"; "Conspiracy to Ruin Plaintiffs Life By Sending Plaintiff to Harms Way"; defamation; fraudulent misrepresentation; common law torts; and aiding and abetting. Id. In Count Seven, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), plaintiff alleges that defendants conspired to deprive him of "Equal Protection of the laws." Id. ¶¶ 148-150. In addition, plaintiff seeks injunctive relief (id. ¶¶ 327-331) as well as declaratory relief, damages, and costs. Id. ¶ 335.[4]

         Several motions are pending.[5] Charter Oak moves to dismiss the FAC, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and under Fed. R. Civ. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. ECF 26. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 26-1) (collectively, "Charter Oak Motion"), and an exhibit. ECF 26-2. Charter Oak contends, inter alia, that plaintiffs allegations fail to confer subject matter jurisdiction.

         Mondo joins the Charter Oak Motion (ECF 47), supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 47-1 (collectively, "Mondo Motion"). Also, Mondo moves to dismiss the FAC, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), for lack of personal jurisdiction; under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(4), for insufficient process; and under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(5), for insufficient service of process. Id. Plaintiff opposes the Charter Oak and Mondo motions (ECF 72), with several exhibits. ECF 72-2 -ECF 72-13.

         In addition, Stone and Stone Vocational (collectively, the "Stone Defendants") move to dismiss the FAC, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. ECF 53. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF 53-1) (collectively, "Stone Motion"). Plaintiff opposes the Stone Motion (ECF 77), supported by exhibits. ECF 77-2 - ECF 77-6.

         Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") on December 17, 2018. ECF 41 ("Motion for Leave"). The proposed SAC (ECF 41-2) is 50 pages in length and contains 44 causes of actions. Id. ¶¶ 110-350.

         Six counts of the SAC (Counts One through Five and Count Twenty-One) set forth claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). ECF 41-2, ¶¶ 110-144. Thirty-six counts allege claims based on Maryland tort and employment law. Id. Counts Forty-Three and Forty-Four seek injunctive relief. Id. ¶¶ 346-350. Notably, the SAC names four additional defendants: two corporate officers of Mondo, Michael Kirven and Tim Johnson, and two corporate officers of Charter Oak, Nicholas Seminara and Daniel Stephen Frey. Id. at 1.

         In the SAC, plaintiff asserts jurisdiction based on diversity, 28 U.S.C. § 1332; federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331; and supplemental jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). ECF 41-2, ¶ 8. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for bodily injury, impairment of earning capacity, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He relies on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution; 42 U.S.C. § 1985(e); Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(a)(1); and a host of provisions in the Labor and Employment Article of the Maryland Code as well as the Code of Maryland Regulations ("COMAR"). ECF 41-2 at 1.

         Defendants oppose the Motion for Leave, asserting that the proposed amendment would be futile. ECF 61; ECF 64; ECF 66. On December 21, 2018, plaintiff sought "Court Permission to Respond to Defendants' Response to Second Amended Complain[t] Rather Than Responding to Defendants' Current Motions to Dismiss For Lack of Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim" (ECF 58), on the basis that "the Second Amended [Complaint] has Addressed those Issues of Lack of Jurisdiction and Failure to State a Claim." Id. at 5 (emphasis in original). However, plaintiff proceeded to file responses in opposition to defendants' motions to dismiss. ECF 72; ECF 77. Accordingly, I shall deny ECF 58, as moot.

         In addition, plaintiff has filed two motions to compel. ECF 16; ECF 71. Plaintiff moves to compel "Defendants to Restart paying plaintiffs weekly temporary total disability payments." ECF16. The motion is supported by several exhibits. ECF 16-2-ECF 16-7. And, plaintiff moves to compel Mondo and Charter Oak "to Produce Workers' Compensation Commission Rulings and Adjudication. . .." ECF 71.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant plaintiffs Motion for Leave (ECF 41). And, I shall construe the Charter Oak Motion (ECF 26), the Mondo Motion (ECF 47), and the Stone Motion (ECF 53) as motions lodged against the Second Amended Complaint. I shall also grant defendants' motions to dismiss. Therefore, I shall deny, as moot, plaintiffs' motions to compel (ECF 16; ECF 71) and his motion to consolidate (ECF 39).

         I. Factual Allegations[6]

         Edokobi, a Maryland citizen, is "a field computer technician." ECF 41-2, ¶¶ 11, 22. Mondo "is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of Delaware, with a principal place of business" in New York. Id. ¶ 12. It is "registered to operate" in Maryland and "offers to sell products and services throughout the United States," including in Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 12-13. Kirven, whose "Domicile is in the State of New York," is the "Founder and Chairman" of Mondo. Id. ¶ 14. And, Johnson, whose "Domicile is in the State of New York," is the "Chief Executive Officer ('CEO') and a Key Executive Officer and Board Member" of Mondo. Id. ¶ 15.

         Charter Oak "offers property and automotive insurance solutions" and "sells and offers" insurance "and other services throughout the United States," including in Maryland. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. It has a principal place of business in Connecticut. Id. ¶ 16.

         Seminara is the "Executive Vice President ('SVP') of Special Liability Group" and a "Board Member" of Charter Oak. ECF 41-2, ¶ 18. His "Domicile is in the State of Connecticut." Id. Frey, whose "Domicile is in the State of Connecticut," is the "Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer ('CFO')" and "Board Member" of Charter Oak. Id. ¶ 19.

         Stone is a "Vocational Rehabilitation Practitioner Appointed" by Mondo and Charter Oak for plaintiffs WCC "CLAIM NO: B 810879." Id. ¶ 20 (emphasis in original). Notably, Stone's "Domicile is in the State of Maryland." Id. Stone Vocational Services, LLC "is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Maryland," with a "principal place of business" in Maryland. Id. ¶ 21; see also ECF 54 (Disclosure Statement).

         On March 15, 2015, Mondo hired Edokobi as a computer technician and assigned him to work at Unisys Corporation ("Unisys"), a "Texas-based Tech Agency." Id. ¶ 22. Unisys assigned plaintiff to work at Dell Corporation ("Dell") "to provide Tech-support to Dell Computer Users" in Washington, D.C. Id. Plaintiff s job with Unisys "involve[d] driving to different locations" in Washington, D.C, and his "daily work operations commenced by" driving to the FedEx Shipping Center "to drop off used parts and pick up new parts" Id. ¶ 23. At the time, plaintiff also had a second job driving limousines, "Luxury Sedans" and other "High-end Vehicles." Id. ¶ 39.

         Plaintiff alleges that on October 10, 2015, he completed a "Medical Fitness" exam, as required by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration ("MVA") and the Maryland Department of Transportation ("MDOT"). Id. ¶ 41. According to plaintiff, his completion of the "Medical Fitness" exam demonstrated "no medical issues" with his "Left Arm" or his "Left- Hand." Id. ¶ 42.

         On October 14, 2015, at approximately 10:45 a.m., plaintiff was driving to the FedEx Shipping Center when another vehicle rear-ended his vehicle. Id. ¶ 25. As a result of the impact, plaintiff "was Temporarily Unconscious" and "taken to George Washington University Hospital[.]" ECF 41-2, ¶ 25. When Edokobi regained "Consciousness," he "discovered" that he suffered injuries to his left arm, left hand, left leg, back, and neck. Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff claims that he "was not able to Lift or Move" his left arm or his left hand. Id. ¶ 27. Due to the "excruciating" pain, the nurses at the hospital intermittently gave him "Pains [sic] Relief Medications." Id. ¶ 28.

         According to plaintiff, the nurses told him that the pain and immobility affecting the left side of his body would subside in a week. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. But, he was advised that if the pain continued after a week, he should see his primary care doctor or go to the emergency room. Id. ¶34.

         When Edokobi's wife arrived at the hospital, she called Robert Bradley, plaintiffs manager at Unisys, as well as to Mondo and his clients, to inform them of the auto accident. Id. ¶ 30. On October 14, 2015, at approximately 5:00 p.m., plaintiff was released from the hospital. Id. ¶ 36. According to plaintiff, he was given Ibuprofen and "Diazepam (Valium)." Id.

         On October 22, 2015, plaintiff went to his primary health doctor, Dr. Wang, because he continued to experience pain in his left hand, left arm, left leg, back, and neck. Id. ¶ 37. Dr. Wang referred plaintiff to an "Orthopedic Doctor," as well as a psychologist, "due to anxiety and nightmares" following the accident. Id. ¶¶ 37-38.

         Plaintiff claims that he has been driving in the United States for the past 18 years, and has no "moving violation or any points [o]n [his] driving records ...." Id. ¶ 43. Plaintiff also alleges that he has a "STAR EMBEDDER" on his driver's license, "which demonstrates a mark of excellent driving records." Id. (emphasis in original).

         According to the SAC, Edokobi was involved in a "Head-on" auto accident in December 1995, in which he broke bones in his left arm and left leg, and another person died. ECF 41- 2, ¶ 44.[7] Plaintiff states that in 1996, he underwent surgery for those injuries, performed by Dr. DePasquale at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. Id. ¶ 46. In addition, Edokobi claims to have had another surgical procedure on his left leg at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore in 1997. Id. ¶ 47.

         The SAC alleges that following Edokobi's surgery in 1996, he had a "painless-non-union," i.e., a broken bone that failed to heal, in his left arm. Id. ¶ 48. He still used his left hand to lift and carry computers and equipment and to drive buses and other commercial vehicles without pain or medical issues. Id. ¶¶ 48-50.

         Plaintiff states that on March 11, 2016, Dr. Michael S. Murphy performed a medical examination of his left arm and left hand and filed a medical report. Id. ¶ 57. Plaintiff contends that Dr. Murphy's medical report "is incorrect and bias[ed] and prejudicial to Plaintiff[.]" Id. In the report, Dr. Murphy allegedly wrote: "THERE IS NO ELBOW FLEXION ON PLAINTIFF'S RIGHT HAND" Id. ¶ 58 (emphasis in original).

         Edokobi maintains that no doctor has treated his left arm or left hand. Id. ¶ 61. Further, he claims that he was scheduled to undergo bone reconstructive surgery by Dr. Robert Buber of "OrthoBethesda." Id. However, Dr. Buber "later backed off' from performing the surgery. Id. In a medical report dated April 27, 2017, Dr. Buber referred to plaintiffs medical condition as "the Conversion Disorder." Id.

         On February 20, 2018, Dr. Stephen W. Siebert, Charter Oak's psychiatrist, allegedly provided Edokobi a "Psychiatric Independent Medical Reevaluation Addendum." Id. ¶ 62. According to Edokobi, Dr. Siebert's Addendum "contradicts" Dr. Buber's medical report of April 27, 2017. Id. ¶62.

         To treat his left arm and left hand, plaintiff received laser treatment on September 29, 2017. ECF 41-2, ¶ 78. Plaintiff claims he paid out of pocket for the treatment, because Charter Oak and Mondo "Have Refused to Pay for Plaintiffs Medical Treatment. ..." Id. ¶ 79.

         The SAC alleges that on October 2, 2017, Edokobi sent a letter to Christine Nizer, the "Administrator" of the MVA, to request "an extension of time" to complete the "Medical Examiner's Certificate" for his commercial driver's license. Id. ¶ 51. According to plaintiff, he sent the letter asking for an extension, because his left hand could not "Grip or Hold Anything" as a result of the accident on October 14, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 51-52.[8]

         In response to Edokobi's letter, the MVA's "Medical Experts" sent plaintiff a "Health Questionnaire," requesting the contact information of his doctors and any current medications he was taking. Id. ¶ 54. Plaintiff claims that he "was informed that MVA's Medical Experts Conducted Comprehensive Medical Investigations" on the "Medical Conditions" of his left arm and left hand. Id. ¶ 55.

         Once the MVA's medical experts completed their investigation, the MVA purportedly revoked Edokobi's commercial driver's license and placed him under "J-LICENSE RESTRICTIONS." Id. ¶ 56 (emphasis in original). This prevented him from driving a vehicle without a driving instructor. Id.

         According to the SAC, on April 27, 2018, defendants "sought and obtained from WCC Commissioner Lauren Godwin an Order to Train Plaintiff in the Adoptive Driving and to Install Adoptive Driving Equipment ... on the Steering Wheels of Plaintiff s Vehicle." Id. ¶ 80.

         Since May 2018, Edokobi has received "psychiatric treatments" from Dr. Patrick Sheehan for "Anxiety, Depression, Emotional Distress, Fear, Panic Attacks, Nightmares" and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"). ECF 41-2, ¶¶ 66, 68. He claims that he continues to experience "serious Nightmares" related to the 1995 ...

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