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Fusco v. Levine

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

April 5, 2018

DOMENICA FUSCO
v.
SCOTT LEVINE, ET AL.

          MAGISTRATE Judge, HAYES

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 22) filed by Defendant, EAN Holdings, LLC (“EAN”), more popularly known as Enterprise. EAN seeks dismissal on the grounds that EAN's status as owner, self-insurer and alleged named insured does not create a conduit for relief against EAN under Louisiana law, specifically, Louisiana's Direct Action Statute (“Direct Action Statute”), La. Rev. Stat. § 22:1269.

         LCTA Casualty Insurance Company (“LCTA”) filed a Petition for Intervention (Record Document 65) with the Court. The Court granted the Petition. See Record Document 72. LCTA is the Plaintiff, Domenica Fusco's (“Fusco”), employer, Trinity Home Health's (“Trinity”) workers' compensation insurer. On November 16, 2017, EAN filed a Second Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss LCTA (Record Document 82), asserting the same arguments made in support of its first Motion to Dismiss. LCTA filed an opposition and adopted all factual allegations made by Fusco as well as the arguments contained in her opposition to EAN's first Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions to Dismiss (Record Documents 22 and 82) are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 30, 2015, Fusco was injured in an automobile collision due to the alleged negligence of Defendant, Scott Levine (“Levine”). See Record Document 1-3 at ¶¶ 2, 10. At the time of the collision, Levine was operating 2014 Hyundai Elantra, a rental car that was rented to him through a rental agreement between himself and EAN or between his employer, Tait Towers Manufacturing, LLC (“Tait Towers”) and EAN. See Id. at ¶¶ 2, 11, 12. Fusco was operating a 2013 Chevrolet Cruz owned by Trinity. See id. at ¶ 4. Subsequently, Fusco asserted claims against LCTA for workers' compensation benefits and medical expenses pursuant to the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act. See Record Document 73. LCTA accepted the claim since the accident arose out of and in the course of her employment with Trinity. See id. LCTA has paid weekly compensation and medical benefits to and/or on behalf of Fusco and may or will be called to pay these benefits in the future. See id.

         On August 30, 2016, Fusco filed a Petition for Damages in the 26th Judicial District Court. See Record Document 1-3. Originally, Fusco named as Defendants Levine, EAN Holdings, LLC, Tait Towers, Inc., and Rock Solid Holdings, LLC. See id. On October 18, 2016, the Defendants filed a Notice of Removal (Record Document 1) with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, diversity jurisdiction. In her Petition, Fusco alleges that as a result of said accident, she suffered injuries. See id. at ¶ 16.

         In Fusco's First Supplemental and Amended Complaint (Record Document 16), she added Tait Towers Manufacturing, LLC as a party-defendant. In Fusco's Third Supplemental and Amended Complaint (Record Document 40), she added Ace American Insurance Company (“Ace”) and Zurich American Insurance Company (“Zurich”) as party- defendants. Subsequently, the Court granted the Joint Stipulation and Motion for Partial Dismissal as to Tait Towers, Inc. and Rock Solid Holdings, LLC. See Record Document 42.

         On December 2, 2016, EAN filed Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss. See Record Document 22. EAN seeks dismissal on the grounds that EAN's status as owner, self-insurer and alleged named insured does not create a conduit for relief against EAN under Louisiana law, specifically, the Direct Action Statute, La. Rev. Stat. § 22:1269.

         On October 4, 2017, LCTA filed a Petition for Intervention (Record Document 65) with the Court. The Court granted the Petition. See Record Document 72. In response to LCTA's Petition for Intervention, EAN filed a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss on the same grounds it asserted in its first Motion to Dismiss. See Record Document 82. LCTA adopted by reference Fusco's opposition memorandum (Record Document 26) filed in response to the same Motion to Dismiss previously filed against Fusco by EAN (Record Document 22), including the factual allegations made therein. See Record Document 92.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Pleading and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) Standards.

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) is now a “plausibility” standard found in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007), and its progeny. Under this standard, “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).” Id. at 555-56, 127 S.Ct. at 1965. If a pleading only contains “labels and conclusions” and “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” the pleading does not meet the standards of Rule 8(a)(2). Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows parties to seek dismissal of a party's pleading for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. However, courts must accept all allegations in a complaint as true. See id. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. “[T]he complaint must contain either direct allegations on every material point necessary to sustain a recovery ... or contain allegations from which an inference fairly may be drawn that evidence on these material points will be introduced at trial.” Campbell v. City of San Antonio, 43 F.3d 973, 975 (5th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). “[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 975 (quoting Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots Ass'n, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993)). Courts considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) are only obligated to allow those complaints that are facially plausible under the Iqbal and Twombly standard to survive such a motion. See id. at 678-79, 129 S.Ct. at 1949. If the complaint does not ...


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