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McDaniel v. Packaging Corporation of America

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

October 31, 2018




         Before the court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant James Machine Works, LLC (“JMW”). Doc. 7. Plaintiffs oppose dismissal. Doc. 11. Also before the court is a Motion to Remand filed by plaintiffs Mickly McDaniel, Jimmel Baptiste, Cecil Ray Collins, Jr., Ernest David Collins, David Allan Martin, Adrian M. Phillips, Samuel Rogers, Ira Shane Welch, Sr., and Ira Shane Welch, Jr. Doc. 10. Defendant, Packaging Corporation of America (“PCA”) opposes remand. Doc. 14. These motions have been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636.

         For the reasons stated below, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED, the Motion to Remand be DENIED and that all claims against defendants Raymond Lester and Floyd J. LeBleu, be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.



         This case arises from injuries plaintiffs allegedly suffered on February 8, 2017, when they were performing their duties as part of a welding/pipefitting crew at a paper mill owned by PCA in DeRidder, Louisiana, when a Foul Condensate tank (“FC tank”) exploded at the facility. Doc. 1, att. 7, p. 4. On April, 17, 2018, plaintiffs, citizens of Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas, filed suit in the 36th Judicial District Court, Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. Doc. 1, att. 7, p. 3. They named as defendants, PCA, a corporation with citizenship in Delaware and Illinois, Floyd J. LeBleu (“LeBleu”) and Raymond Lester (“Lester”), both residents of Louisiana; and JMW, “a Louisiana limited liability company with its principal place of business located in the Parish of Ouachita, State of Louisiana.” Doc. 1, att. 7, p. 4.

         On June 13, 2018, PCA removed the action to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. PCA maintains that LeBleu, Lester, and JMW are improperly joined because plaintiff fails to state a valid cause of action against them, therefore, their citizenship should be ignored for purposes of determining diversity jurisdiction. Doc. 1, pp. 3-10.


         Law & Analysis

         A. Motion to Dismiss [Doc. 7]

         JMW filed a Motion to Dismiss it from plaintiff's claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Doc. 7. It argues plaintiffs' claim against it is merely a recitation of the Louisiana Products Liabilities Act, Louisiana Revised Statute §. 9:2800.51, et seq. (“LPLA”), and that plaintiffs have failed to provide any factual allegations to support a claim under the LPLA. Doc. 7, att. 1, pp. 1-2. Plaintiffs oppose the motion arguing that dismissal would be premature as there is no dispute that the FC tank was the epicenter of the explosion and issues of notice, warning, and design are likely to be argued by parties as the case progresses. Doc. 11.

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for dismissal of a claim when a plaintiff “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” When reviewing such a motion, the court should focus exclusively on the complaint and its attachments. Wilson v. Birnberg, 667 F.3d 591, 595 (5th Cir. 2012). Such motions are also reviewed with the court “accepting all well-pleaded facts as true and viewing those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Bustos v. Martini Club, Inc., 599 F.3d 458, 461 (5th Cir. 2010). However, “the plaintiff must plead enough facts ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct.1955, 1974 (2007)). The court's task in evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is “not to evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success, ” but instead to determine whether the claim is both legally cognizable and plausible. Billups v. Credit Bureau of Greater Shreveport, 2014 WL 4700254, *2 (W.D. La. Sep. 22, 2014) (quoting Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010)).

         In its petition, plaintiffs name JMW as the manufacturer of the FC tank and allege that JMW's fault or negligence injured plaintiffs. Doc. 1, att. 7, p. 8. In Louisiana, the LPLA is the exclusive theory of liability for a manufacturer whose product is said to have cause harm to another. See La. R.S. 9:2800.52. In order to recover under LPLA the damage must have arisen “from a reasonably anticipated use of the product” and the product must be “unreasonably dangerous” based on its: (1) “construction or composition, ” (2) “design, ” (3) “inadequate warning, ” or, (4) “nonconformity to an express warranty of the manufacturer.” La. R.S. 9:2800.54.

         Plaintiffs have failed to allege anything about the FC tank that would render it unreasonably dangerous by a standard outlined by the LPLA. They suggest in opposition that possibly the parties may discover issues of notice, warning, or design that would ultimately be “argued.” Doc. 11, p. 4. Insofar as these potential arguments do not form any part of the pleadings then they are not to be considered. In short plaintiffs have failed to state any facts that would satisfy ...

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