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D'Aquin v. Penske Truck Leasing Company, L.P.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 20, 2018


         SECTION “R” (4)



         Before the Court is defendant Penske Truck Leasing Company L.P.'s motion to dismiss.[1] Because plaintiff's claim is barred by res judicata, and because plaintiff fails to state a claim, the Court grants the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Thomas L. D'Aquin filed this pro se lawsuit on March 22, 2018 against Penske, and against defendants Brian Hard, Roger Penske, Sr., Marc Athern, Dennis Abruzi, Jeffery Bullard, Ken Coots, and Jonathan Foley, who are current and former executives of Penske.[2] Plaintiff rented a truck from Penske and kept it beyond its return date.[3] Plaintiff alleges that defendants helped to illegally seize the rental truck.[4] Defendants then allegedly seized the property in the truck, failed to make an inventory of the property, and then confiscated the property illegally in violation of D'Aquin's Fourth Amendment and Due Process rights.[5] D'Aquin seeks $3 million in damages for the items confiscated, which include $23, 000 in cash, a printer, a cabinet, pictures, a racquet stringer, tennis racquets, two watches, and all of plaintiff and his spouse's clothing.[6] On May 24, 2018, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of federal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[7] In the alternative, defendants move for a more definite statement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e).[8] Plaintiff opposes the motion.[9]Defendants also argue that this case should be dismissed on the basis of res judicata because plaintiff filed a similar lawsuit in 2016 against Penske.[10]


         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         A court must dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) when it lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim. Two possibilities for jurisdiction exist: federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Federal question jurisdiction is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule, which provides that “federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Beneficial Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 12 (2003) (citing Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987)); see also Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009) (explaining that “a suit ‘arises under' federal law ‘only when the plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon [federal law]'”). Diversity jurisdiction exists only when there is complete diversity of citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

         In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, the court may rely on (1) the complaint alone, presuming the allegations to be true; (2) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts; or (3) the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts and by the court's resolution of disputed facts. Den Norske Stats Oljeselskap As v. HeereMac Vof, 241 F.3d 420, 424 (5th Cir. 2001); see also Barrera-Montenegro v. United States, 74 F.3d 657, 659 (5th Cir. 1996).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, plaintiffs must plead enough facts to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. 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, 239, 244 (5th Cir. 2009). But the Court is not bound to accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         A legally sufficient complaint must establish more than a “sheer possibility” that the plaintiff's 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 plaintiff's claim. Lormand, 565 F.3d at 257. 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.


         A. Lack of ...

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