United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the City of New Orleans' motion for a
judgment on the pleadings. For the following reasons, the
motion is GRANTED.
September 4, 2014, the plaintiff, Winifred Watson-Florence,
was injured in New Orleans. The plaintiff, who at the time of
the accident was a pedestrian, entered the crosswalk at the
intersection of Canal Street and North Peters. Carlos Soto
was the driver and the insured of the vehicle that struck the
plaintiff alleges that she was already crossing the first
lane of the crosswalk, where cars were stopped to allow
pedestrians to cross, when she was crossing over the second
lane of traffic and Soto was driving a vehicle in the second
lane of traffic; Soto failed to stop for the crossing
pedestrians. Soto's failure to stop caused him to run
into the plaintiff and knocked her to the ground. The
plaintiff also alleges that the pedestrian crosswalk signal
at this intersection was not functioning properly at the time
of the accident.
basis of the negligence claim against the City of New Orleans
is that the City created an unreasonably dangerous condition
at the intersection of North Peters and Canal Street by
failing to repair the crosswalk signal at this intersection.
Plaintiff alleges that an inoperable pedestrian crosswalk
signal gives rise to municipal liability.
City of New Orleans moves for a judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). The City
contends that missing or inoperative intersectional signage
does not give rise to municipal liability, absent
particularized allegations that the broken signage created
some sort of trap.
standards to be applied to a Rule 12(c) motion are the same
as those governing motions brought under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Med RX/Systems, P.L.L.C.
v. Texas Dept. of State Health Servs., 633 F. App'x
607, 610 (5th Cir. 2016).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Gonzalez v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, on the assumption that all the
allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in
fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations and footnote omitted).
"A claim has facial plausibility 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
("The plausibility standard is not akin to a
'probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than
a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully."). This is a "context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense." Id. at 679.
"Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely
consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short
of the line between possibility and plausibility of
entitlement to relief." Id. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (internal quotations
omitted). "[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the
'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to
relief'" thus "requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 555 (alteration in original) (citation omitted).
deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court may consider
documents that are essentially "part of the
pleadings." That is, any documents attached to or
incorporated in the plaintiff's complaint that are
central to the plaintiff's claim for relief. Causey
v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288
(5th Cir. 2004) (citing Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th Cir. 2000)). Also, the
Court is permitted to consider matters of public record and
other matters subject to judicial notice without converting a
motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. See
United States ex rel. Willard v. Humana Health Plan of Tex.
Inc., 336 F.3d 375, 379 (5th Cir. 2003). Finally, a
“motion to dismiss should not be granted unless the
plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any set of
facts that he could prove consistent with the
complaint.” Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503,
529 (5th Cir. 2004).
case law has addressed the issue on multiple occasions.
Courts are slow to hold a municipal body liable for accidents
that occurred at intersections when traffic signals
malfunctioned or were obstructed from view where the motorist
or pedestrian failed to exercise reasonable, common sense
prudence. See Ponthier v. City of New Orleans, 496
So.2d 1050, 1051-52 (La. Ct. App. 4th Cir. 1986);
Pepitone v. ...