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Taylor v. B&J Martin, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 10, 2019


         SECTION A(1)



         Before the Court is a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 15) filed by Defendants Lege Consulting Services, LLC and Corey T. Gardiner (herein after collectively referred to as “Defendants”). Plaintiff Allen Taylor opposes the motion. (Rec. Doc. 18). Defendants replied (Rec. Doc. 29), and Plaintiff filed a sur-reply (Rec. Doc. 31) to which Defendants then filed a sur-reply (Rec. Doc. 34). The motion, set for submission on April 17, 2019, is before the Court. Having considered the motion and memoranda of counsel, the opposition and replies, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that Defendants' motion is DENIED for the reasons set forth below.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff was employed as a seaman by B & J Martin, Inc. aboard the F/V DUSTY DAWN. (Rec. Doc. 1 Complaint, ¶ 5). On October 14, 2015, Plaintiff stepped on a cigarette lighter and fell on the deck of the vessel sustaining various injuries. (Id. at 6). On September 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant suit pursuant to the Jones Act and General Maritime Law naming B &J Martin, Inc. (“B & J Martin”) and Rooster Oil & Gas, LLC (“Rooster Oil”) as defendants. (Id. at 1-3). On February 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed the First Supplemental and Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 10) naming two additional defendants, Corey T. Gardiner (“Gardiner”) and Lege's Consulting Services, LLC (“Lege Consulting”). (Rec. Doc. 10 ¶ 7). Defendants now move the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Gardiner and Lege Consulting as time-barred and prescribed pursuant to 46 U.S.C. § 30106.

         II. Legal Standard

         In the context of a motion to dismiss the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308 (2007); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Lovick v. Ritemoney, Ltd., 378 F.3d 433, 437 (5th Cir. 2004)). However, the foregoing tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Thread-bare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550, U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         The central issue in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is whether, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint states a valid claim for relief. Gentilello v. Rege, 627 F.3d 540, 544 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Doe v. MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008)). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949). “A claim has facial plausibility 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. The Court does not accept as true “conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions.” Id. (quoting Plotkin v. IP Axess, Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005)). Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. (quoting Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950).

         “If a court considers materials outside of the pleadings, the motion to dismiss must be treated as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56(c).” Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Tuley v. Heyd, 482 F.2d 590, 592 (5th Cir.1973)). Summary judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, “show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

         Once the moving party has initially shown “that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's cause, ” the non-movant must come forward with “specific facts” showing a genuine factual issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993)).

         III. Discussion

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims have prescribed because the three-year prescription period for maritime torts expired prior to the February 1, 2019, Amended Complaint naming Defendants as additional parties. (Rec. Doc. 15-1, p. 4). Plaintiff counters that the filing of the Amended Complaint relates back to the filing date of the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1). (Rec. Doc. 18, p. 2). Plaintiff also requests this court to convert the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (Id.).

         Consistent with the Fifth Circuit holding in Causey, the Court converts the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment because the parties submitted evidence outside of the pleadings in the motion to dismiss. Pursuant to 46 U.S.C. Section 30106, “a civil action for damages for personal injury or death arising out of a maritime tort must be brought within 3 years after the cause of action arose.” Plaintiff's original Complaint dated September 26, 2018, alleging injuries arising out of a maritime tort on October 14, 2015, was timely. As Plaintiff's claims prescribed on October 14, 2018, the subsequent February 2019 pleading naming Defendants was untimely.

         Pursuant to Rule 15(c)(1), the Federal Rules of Procedure allow for an otherwise prescribed pleading to relate back to the ...

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