United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TAMINIKA SHAUL, DERRICK THOMAS, and RICHARD J. TURNER
CANAL INSURANCE COMPANY, CHRISTOPHER C. COOK, and TEXAS FREIGHT SERVICES, INC.
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the plaintiffs' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss the defendants' amended counterclaim, or in the
alternative, Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. For the
reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.
personal injury action arises out of a motor vehicle accident
that allegedly occurred on the I-10's Highrise Bridge in
New Orleans, Louisiana.
November 29, 2017, Richard Turner, Taminika Shaul, and
Derrick Thomas were riding as passengers in a Nissan Murano
traveling westbound on Interstate 10 in the center lane.
Christopher Cook was allegedly driving a Freightliner
semi-truck in the right-hand lane next to the Nissan. It is
alleged that, “suddenly and without warning, ”
Mr. Cook “changed to the middle lane, ” causing
his semi-truck to strike the Nissan.
March 16, 2018, Richard Turner, Taminika Shaul, and Derrick
Thomas sued Christopher Cook, Texas Freight Services, Inc.
(Cook's employer), and Canal Insurance Company (Texas
Freight's automobile liability insurer), alleging that
Cook's negligence caused their injuries and seeking
damages in excess of $1, 000, 000.
October of 2018, the defendants were granted leave to file a
counterclaim, alleging that the plaintiffs misrepresented
and/or staged the accident and/or misrepresented their
injuries, causing the defendants to sustain damages in the
form of attorneys' fees and litigation expenses. The
plaintiffs then moved to dismiss the counterclaim for failure
to state a claim, after which the defendants filed an amended
counterclaim on December 17, 2018.
their amended counterclaim, the defendants allege that the
plaintiffs conspired together to cause and/or stage this
accident. For support, the defendants submit that Mr. Cook
did not merge to the left as plaintiffs allege or experience
any type of impact consistent with a motor vehicle accident.
They further allege that there was no damage to the
18-wheeler and minimal damage to the passenger side of the
plaintiffs' vehicle, which plaintiffs attribute to the
purported accident discussed in their complaint. The
defendants also allege that they have discovered over 30
other accidents with similar factual scenarios, where
18-wheelers on the I-10 or 6-10 in New Orleans are flagged
down regarding accidents of which their drivers are unaware.
According to the defendants, plaintiff Richard Turner's
brother (Rashad Turner) was involved in one of these similar
accidents one week prior to this accident, his mother
(Tiffany Turner) and sister (Adonte Turner) were involved in
their own similar accident just a week before Rashad's,
and Tiffany Turner's former husband (Juan Matthews) was
involved in an accident with the same fact pattern about four
plaintiffs now move to dismiss the defendants' amended
counterclaim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), or in the
alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a
party to move for dismissal of a complaint for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Such a motion
is rarely granted because it is viewed with disfavor. See
Lowrey v. Tex. A & M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247
(5th Cir. 1997) (quoting Kaiser Aluminum & Chem.
Sales, Inc. v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 677 F.2d 1045,
1050 (5th Cir. 1982)).
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678-79 (2009) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8). “[T]he pleading
standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed
factual allegations,' but it demands more than an
accusation.” Id. at 678 (citing Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Stated