United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
CARL R. ARRINGTON, Plaintiff,
MONSANTO CHEMICAL, Defendant.
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on Defendant Monsanto
Chemical's “Motion to Dismiss.” (Doc. 8).
Plaintiff Arrington, pro se, filed this case against
Monsanto, alleging Monsanto contaminated the drinking water
in the Anniston, Alabama area, which caused him to develop
Leukemia. Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss Mr.
Arrington's claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6),
asserting that Alabama's statute of limitations bars his
claims. Monsanto further argues that Mr. Arrington's
claims are time-barred even if the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of
1980 preempts Alabama law and provides a later commencement
date for the limitations period.
the court finds that it is not apparent from the face of the
complaint that Mr. Arrington's claims are untimely, the
court concludes that Monsanto's motion to dismiss is due
to be DENIED.
Arrington is a United States Army veteran who was stationed
at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama for “several
months.” His complaint does not specify when he was
stationed there, only that the fort “was recognized as
an active duty military base from January 1, 1935 to May 20,
1999.” (Doc. 1 at 8).
2003, Monsanto Chemical, and its spinoff company, Solutia,
settled a lawsuit brought by more than 20, 000 residents of
Anniston, Alabama for claims that Monsanto had contaminated
that area's drinking water with polychlorinated
biphenyls, which are toxic to the human body. (Id.)
Mr. Arrington asserts that he consumed much of the
contaminated water while living in the Anniston area as a
soldier, and the chemicals caused him to develop Leukemia
years later. (Id.).
Arrington learned of the 2003 settlement between Monsanto and
the Anniston residents in May 2017. (Id.). He filed
this suit on September 15, 2017.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of
the complaint. Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure require only that the complaint provide
“‘a short and plain statement of the claim'
that will give the defendant fair notice of what the
plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). A plaintiff must provide
the grounds of her entitlement, but Rule 8 generally does not
require “detailed factual allegations.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting
Conley, 355 U.S. at 47). It does, however,
“demand[ ] more than an unadorned,
Ashcroft v. Iqbal 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not
meet Rule 8 standards nor do pleadings suffice that are based
merely upon “labels or conclusions” or
“naked assertions” without supporting factual
allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.
Supreme Court explained that “[t]o survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678 (quoting and explaining its decision in
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To be plausible on its
face, the claim must contain enough facts that “allow[
] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although “[t]he
plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability
requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Id. “Where a
complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a
defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line
between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to
relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557). If the court determines that well-pleaded
facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is
plausible, the claim must be dismissed. Id.
argues that Alabama's statute of limitations for claims
involving exposure to hazardous chemicals bars Mr.
Arrington's claims because the statute required him to
bring those claims within two years of his last exposure to
the chemicals. Monsanto further argues that Mr.
Arrington's claims are time-barred even if CERCLA's
federally required commencement date applies to extend the
limitations period because Mr. Arrington reasonably should
have known that Monsanto's alleged contamination caused
or contributed to his personal injuries more than two years
before he filed this lawsuit.
court first recognizes that “[a] statute of limitations
bar is an affirmative defense, and . . . plaintiffs are not
required to negate an affirmative defense in their
complaint.” La Grasta v. First Union Securities,
Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Also, “a Rule 12(b)(6)
dismissal on statute of limitations grounds is appropriate
only if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that
the claim is time-barred.” Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted). Therefore, a statute of limitations
defense is generally not appropriate for evaluation on a
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
McMillian v. AMC Mortg. Services, Inc., 560 F.Supp.
1210, 1213 (S.D. Ala. 2008).
this court sits in diversity, Alabama substantive law,
including the statute of limitations, presumptively governs
these proceedings. SeeMississippi Valley Title
Ins. Co. v. Thompson,802 F.3d 1248, 1251 n.2 (11th Cir.
2015). Alabama law imposes a two-year statute of limitations
for personal injury claims. Ala. Code §
6-2-38(1). The two-year period begins to run as to toxic
substance exposure claims “only when there has occurred
a manifest, present injury.” Griffin v. Unocal
Corp.,990 So.2d 291, 293 (Ala. 2008) (quoting and
adopting as its opinion the reasoning in Justice
Harwood's dissent in Cline v. Ashland, Inc., 970
So.2d 755, 773 (Ala. 2007)). An injury is manifest when it