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White v. Miller

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

November 27, 2018

DIANE WHITE, Plaintiff,
v.
DARRIN RAY MILLER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Doc. 7). Plaintiff Diane White brings this action asserting negligence and wantonness claims against Defendants Darrin Ray Miller and Omni Specialized, LLC. (“Omni”) to recover damages arising from a motor vehicle accident allegedly caused by Mr. Miller. (Doc. 1 at 1-3). In the motion, Defendants argue that Counts II, III, and IV of Ms. White's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 7 at 1). The motion has been fully briefed and the issues are ripe for review. (Doc. 7; Doc. 15; Doc. 16). For the reasons explained below, the court WILL GRANT Defendants' motion and WILL DISMISS Counts II, III, and IV of the complaint.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) enables a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         A plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. A complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. When resolving a motion to dismiss, the court must “accept[] the allegations in the complaint as true and constru[e] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Miljkovic v. Shafritz & Dinkin, P.A., 791 F.3d 1291, 1297 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting Hill v. White, 321 F.3d 1334, 1335 (11th Cir. 2003) (per curiam)).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The facts taken in the light most favorable to Ms. White are as follows. On January 11, 2017, Ms. White was traveling on Interstate 59 in Jefferson County, Alabama. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). At the same time and place, Mr. Miller was driving a tractor-trailer in the same direction. (Id.). Mr. Miller allegedly struck the rear quarter panel of another driver's vehicle, causing it to collide with Ms. White's vehicle. (Id. at 2-3). Ms. White asserts that Mr. Miller was not paying attention as he changed lanes and failed to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles. (Id. at 3). Ms. White claims to have suffered severe bodily injuries. (Id.).

         Ms. White filed this action against Mr. Miller and Omni on August 7, 2018. (Id. at 1). Invoking diversity of citizenship as the predicate for federal jurisdiction, Ms. White asserts state law claims including: negligence (Count I); wantonness (Count II); negligent and wanton entrustment (Count III); and negligent hiring, training, and supervision (Count IV). (Id. at 3-6).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants argue that Counts II-IV of the complaint are due to be dismissed because the allegations consist of bare legal conclusions and otherwise fail to allege sufficient factual content to support a plausible inference of liability. The court agrees.

         A. Count II: Wantonness

         Under Alabama law, wantonness is defined as “conduct which is carried on with a reckless or conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.” Ala. Code § 6-11-20(b)(3). To state a claim for wanton or reckless conduct, Ms. White must allege that Mr. Miller engaged in some act or omitted some duty “while knowing of the existing conditions and being conscious that, from doing or omitting to do an act, injury [would] likely or probably result.” Ex parte Essary, 992 So.2d 5, 9 (Ala. 2007) (citing Bozeman v. Central Bank of the South, 646 So.2d 601 (Ala. 1994)).

         As plead, there are no facts from which to infer Mr. Miller's consciousness or awareness that Ms. White's injuries would likely result from his decision to change lanes. There is no allegation that Mr. Miller was driving at an unsafe speed, using drugs or alcohol, ignoring traffic signals, or otherwise conducting himself with a reckless or conscious disregard of Ms. White's safety. Accordingly, the court WILL GRANT Defendants' motion as to Count II and WILL DISMISS Ms. White's wantonness claim.

         B. Count III: Negligent and ...


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