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Cannon v. Sears Roebuck & Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 22, 2014

WAYNE CANNON, Plaintiff,
v.
SEARS ROEBUCK & CO., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM M. ACKER, Jr., District Judge.

This case comes before the court on a motion to dismiss by defendant Sears Roebuck and Co. and defendant Ortill, Inc. alleging plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for damages for mental anguish or emotional distress.

In Alabama, mental anguish damages "are subject to strict scrutiny if the plaintiff ha[s] not suffered any physical injury, " however where plaintiff suffers physical injuries, the "principle... does not apply" and the degree of damages is left to the discretion of the jury. Daniels v. E. Alabama Paving, Inc., 740 So.2d 1033, 1044 (Ala. 1999). Further, while generally mental anguish damages are not recoverable arising from breach of contract, Alabama courts have excepted from this general rule recovery for such damages arising under a breach of warranty theory of products liability. Volkswagen of Am., Inc. v. Dillard, 579 So.2d 1301, 1304 (Ala. 1991).

In this case, plaintiff alleges damages for emotional distress and mental anguish under both a theory of physical, personal injury and a theory of breach of warranty in products liability. Factually, plaintiff alleges "[e]xtreme mental anguish and emotional distress" after being "struck below the right eye by a fragment of the hand held sledge hammer he was using." (Doc. 1, Ex. A at 2-3). For the purposes of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court accepts plaintiff's well-pled facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in his favor. Am. United Life Ins. Co. v. Martinez, 480 F.3d 1043, 1057 (11th Cir. 2007). Therefore, plaintiff's complaint contains factual allegation[s] sufficient to plausibly suggest" a claim upon which recovery for damages for emotional distress or mental anguish may be granted. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 683 (2009). Defendants motion to dismiss is DENIED.


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