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Chiasson v. Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

December 18, 2017

TROY W. CHIASSON
v.
HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS, USA, INC.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court, on referral from the district judge, is a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) [Doc. 5] filed by defendant Harbor Freight Tools, USA, Inc. (“defendant”). Plaintiff Troy W. Chiasson opposes the motion [Doc. 7], and defendant has filed a Reply brief [Doc. 11]. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends that the motion be DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This action was removed to this Court on October 18, 2017, from the Twenty-Seventh Judicial District Court, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana under the Court's diversity jurisdiction. According to the plaintiff's petition, the plaintiff purchased a Chicago Electric Power Tools Brand 18 Volt Cordless Heavy Duty Reciprocating Saw and a Chicago Electric Power Tools Brand 8 Volt NiCad Battery (collectively, the “products”) from the defendant's store located in Lafayette, Louisiana on July 22, 2016. Plaintiff alleges that on September 9, 2016, he was using the saw when the battery malfunctioned and exploded, destroying the saw and battery, and causing the plaintiff to fall, which caused personal injuries. The plaintiff alleges the defendant negligently and carelessly designed, manufactured, constructed, assembled, inspected, and sold the saw and battery, and that the products were defective in design.

         In the instant motion to dismiss, the defendant argues (1) the plaintiff's claims are time-barred, and (2) the plaintiff fails to state a claim against it, because it is a non-manufacturing seller and therefore cannot be liable under the Louisiana Products Liability Act.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs must plead enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff pleads facts that allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. A court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232-33 (5th Cir.2009); Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190, 196 (5th Cir.1996). But the Court is not bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50.

         A legally sufficient complaint must establish more than a “sheer possibility” that plaintiffs' claim is true. Id. It need not contain detailed factual allegations, but it must go beyond labels, legal conclusions, or formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In other words, the face of the complaint must contain enough factual matter to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiffs' claim. Lormand, 565 F.3d at 255-57. If there are insufficient factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, or if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that there is an insuperable bar to relief, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007); Carbe v. Lappin, 492 F.3d 325, 328 & n. 9 (5th Cir.2007), the claim must be dismissed.

         III. ANALYSIS

         As jurisdiction in this matter is premised upon 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (diversity of citizenship), Louisiana law governs the substantive issues of law. Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938). As such, the Court is duty bound to apply Louisiana law. The defendant argues that under Louisiana law, the plaintiff's claims are subject to dismissal on two grounds: (1) the claims are prescribed; and (2) the plaintiff fails to state a claim against a non-manufacturing seller. Additionally, although the plaintiff does not cite to the Louisiana Products Liability Act in his petition, all parties agree the claims alleged in the instant case arise under, and are governed by, the LPLA.

         1. Prescription

         The defendant argues the plaintiff's claims are prescribed under Article 3492 of the Louisiana Civil Code, which provides that delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year, which commences to run from the date the injury or damage is sustained. The defendant argues the accident in question occurred on September 9, 2016, and therefore the plaintiff's claims prescribed if he did not files suit on or before September 9, 2017. Because the plaintiff filed his lawsuit on September 14, 2017, the defendant argues the plaintiff's claims are prescribed.

         In response, the plaintiff agrees that the applicable prescriptive period in this case expired on September 9, 2017, but that because September 9, 2017 fell on a Saturday, the prescriptive period actually did not expire until the end of Monday, September 11, 2017, the next business day of the Court. The plaintiff then argues that pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. §13:850(A), timely facsimile transmission of a petition interrupts prescription, and pursuant to the statute, filing of a ...


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