United States District Court, D. Maryland
Great Northern Ins. Co.
Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co., et al.
Great Northern Insurance Company (“Great
Northern”) filed this subrogation action relating to a
fire at the home of its insureds. ECF 15. I have reviewed the
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, ECF 28,
filed by Defendant Aclara Meters, LLC (“Aclara”).
Plaintiff Great Northern Insurance Company (“Great
Northern”) filed an opposition, ECF 30, and Aclara
filed a reply, ECF 31. No. hearing is necessary. See
Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow,
Aclara's Motion will be denied.
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which
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,
555-56 (2007). To survive a motion to dismiss 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.” Id. at 570; see
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our
decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard
for ‘all civil actions.'”); 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, 574
U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014) (per curiam).
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). However, a court is not required to accept legal
conclusions drawn from the facts. 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).
that relatively lenient standard, Great Northern's
Amended Complaint sufficiently states a products liability
claim against Aclara. The specific factual allegations in the
Amended Complaint include:
10. Before March 2, 2019, defendant BGE installed a 400 amp
electrical smart meter at the Property (“the
11. The Meter was designed, manufactured and/or distributed
by defendant Aclara.
12. On or about March 2, 2019, a fire occurred in the Meter
20. The Fire originated within the Meter and the actual fire
was contained to the Meter itself and the remaining damage to
the Property was from the smoke.
. . .
22. There was a failure of the insulation/isolation within
the internal electrical components within the meter such that
current flowed in an unintended manner creating heat and
resulting in arcing events inside the Meter, which caused it
to catch Fire.
23. The arcing occurred in the area of the last terminal in
the Meter before the power goes to the house.
24. The significant arcing events within the Meter consumed
many of the internal components making it impossible to
identify the specific component within the Meter that
initiated the failure.
26. Defendant designed, manufactured, and/or distributed the
Meter, which was intended by the defendant Aclara to be used
by members of the general public ...