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Rivers v. Remington Arms Company, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 7, 2018


         SECTION I

          ORDER & REASONS


         Before the Court is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed by defendants Remington Arms Company, LLC (“Remington”), Sporting Good Properties, Inc. (“SGP”), and E.I. du Pont De Nemours & Co. (“DuPont”). For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         On December 21, 2016, plaintiff Riley Rivers (“Rivers”) was handling a Remington 700 rifle equipped with an X-Mark Pro (“XMP”) trigger, when the rifle allegedly discharged despite the safety mechanism being engaged.[1] The shot caused serious injury to Rivers’ foot.[2]

         On December 12, 2017, Rivers filed the present lawsuit asserting claims under the Louisiana Products Liability Act[3] (“LPLA”) and the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act[4] (“LUTPA”). The complaint also makes passing references to fraud[5]and civil conspiracy.[6]

         With respect to the LPLA, Rivers alleges design defect,[7] manufacturing defect,[8]inadequate warning,[9] and express warranty claims.[10] Under the LUTPA, Rivers claims that Remington, SGP, and DuPont suppressed information regarding the alleged defects and failed to widely publicize said information, creating danger to the rifles’ users.[11] Rivers’ LUTPA claim includes a demand for treble damages and attorney’s fees.[12]

         Remington, SGP, and DuPont now move to dismiss all of Rivers’ claims against them. They argue that Rivers’ LUTPA claim, as well as any claim he may have asserted for fraud and civil conspiracy, are barred by the LPLA’s exclusivity provision. They further maintain that Rivers has failed to sufficiently plead a claim under the LPLA.


         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a district court to dismiss a complaint, or any part of it, when a plaintiff has not set forth well-pleaded factual allegations that would entitle him to relief. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Cuvillier v. Taylor, 503 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 2007). A plaintiff’s factual allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In other words, a complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)).

         On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court limits its review “to the complaint, any documents attached to the complaint, and any documents attached to the motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and referenced by the complaint.” Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010); see also Spivey v. Robertson, 197 F.3d 772, 774 (5th Cir. 1999). In assessing the complaint, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and liberally construe all such allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Spivey, 197 F.3d at 774; Lowrey v. Tex. A&M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247 (5th Cir. 1997). Where “the complaint ‘on its face show[s] a bar to relief,’” then dismissal is the appropriate course. Cutrer v. McMillan, 308 Fed. App’x. 819, 820 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting Clark v. Amoco Prod. Co., 794 F.2d 967, 970 (5th Cir. 1986)).



         The LPLA “establishes the exclusive theories of liability for manufacturers for damages caused by their products.” La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.52. Consequently, a plaintiff “may not recover from a manufacturer for damage caused by a product on the basis of any theory of liability that is not set forth” in the LPLA. Id. This exclusivity “is well-established in both the statute and its attendant case law.” Bracey v. C.B. Fleet Holding Co., Inc., No. 6-3238, 2006 WL 3733808, at *2 (E.D. La. Dec. 15, 2006) (Africk, J.); see also Jefferson v. Lead Indus. Ass’n, Inc., 106 F.3d 1245, 1248 (5th Cir. 1997) (“Louisiana law eschews all theories of recovery in this case except those explicitly set forth in the LPLA.”).

         Rivers’ claims under the LUTPA and any claims for fraud and civil conspiracy, therefore, must be dismissed. See Pramann v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., No. 16-12413, 2017 WL 58469, *2 (E.D. La. Jan. 5, 2017) (Africk, J.) (dismissing all claims outside of the LPLA); Bracey, 2006 WL 3733808, at *2 (rejecting as “unpersuasive” plaintiffs’ arguments that, because the LUTPA offers remedies distinct from those available under the LPLA, LUTPA claims should be allowed to proceed alongside LPLA claims); Ingram v. Bayer Corp., No. 2-352, 2002 WL 1163613, at *2 (E.D. La. May 30, 2002) (Porteous, J.) (“Plaintiff’s causes of action . . . are limited to those expressly available under the LPLA. The LPLA does not allow the plaintiff to recover for negligence, gross negligence, strict liability, fraud, misrepresentation, concealment, conspiracy, suppression and willful, wanton and reckless conduct against [a defendant].”).

         Likewise, Rivers’ claims for punitive damages and attorney’s fees must fail. See Cantu v. C.B. Fleet Holding Co., Inc., No. 6-2168, 2007 WL 689566, at *2 (W.D. La. Mar. 1, 2007) (Minaldi, J.) (“The LUTPA is penal in nature in that it allows the recovery of treble damages and attorney’s fees. Punitive damages are not recoverable under the LPLA.”); see also Amer. Homes. Assur. Co. v. Oceaneering Int’l, Inc., 609 Fed. App’x 171, 174 (5th Cir. 2015) (noting that the LPLA “explicitly prohibits the recovery of attorney’s fees”); La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.53(5) (“Attorneys’ fees are not recoverable under this Chapter.”).


         Rivers’ only remaining claims fall under the LPLA. Remington, SGP, and DuPont argue that these claims should also be dismissed, because Rivers’ allegations are ...

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