United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
E. Ott Chief United States Magistrate Judge
a personal injury case, filed after Plaintiff James Robinson
fell from a platform on which he was working and sustained
physical injuries. (Doc. 1-1 ¶¶ 14-15,
17-18). Robinson asserts claims for negligence,
wantonness, and subsequent negligence against Defendants
CEMEX Southeast, LLC (“CEMEX”) and Randy Martin.
(Id. ¶¶ 24-27). The court has before it
Defendants' motions to dismiss. (Docs. 3, 20). The
motions are fully briefed, (docs. 27, 28), and are ripe for
decision. For the reasons that follow, both motions are due
to be granted.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) authorizes a motion to
dismiss all or some of the claims in a complaint on the
ground that its allegations fail to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. That provision is read, in turn, in
light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) which
requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” in
order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the .
. . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ”
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). The court
is required to accept the well-pled factual allegations of
the complaint as true and give the plaintiff the benefit of
all reasonable factual inferences. See Hazewood v.
Foundation Financial Group, LLC, 551 F.3d 1223,
1224 (11th Cir. 2008). However, “courts ‘are not
bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Papasan
v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)); see also
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)
(“Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from
the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but
it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff
armed with nothing more than conclusions.”). Nor is it
proper to assume that the plaintiff can prove facts it has
not alleged or that the defendants have violated the law in
ways that have not been alleged. Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 563 n.8 (citing Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal.,
Inc. v. Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983)).
Allegations in the Complaint
alleges he fell several feet from an elevated work platform
at a CEMEX facility and suffered severe injuries as a result.
(Doc. 1-1 ¶ 15). The platform “was constructed[, ]
operated and maintained by the Defendants.”
(Id. ¶ 19). The platform where Robinson was
working did not have “proper guards or devices . . . to
prevent the Plaintiff or any other person from suffering a
fall . . . ” and causing injuries. (Id. ¶
17). Defendant Martin was the supervisor or project manager
for CEMEX when Plaintiff fell from the platform.
(Id. ¶ 12). Robinson contends both Defendants
had “an obligation to properly guard the platform and
to have guardrails and other protective guarding systems or
devices to prevent” a fall from the platform.
(Id. ¶¶ 15-16). They also had, according
to the complaint, an “obligation and duty” to
provide Robinson with a safe place to work. (Id.).
Robinson contends both Defendants breached their duties
“by [their] negligence and wantonness which caused the
serious permanent injuries to the Plaintiff.”
time of the accident, Robinson “was working as an
employee of a temporary agency Labor Finders.”
(Id. ¶ 8). Robinson “never considered
himself an employee of CEMEX” and “was told on
numerous occasions by CEMEX personnel that he was not an
employee of CEMEX.” (Id. ¶¶ 9, 10).
He was, however, “performing a function of Defendant
CEMEX as a result of his contract of employment with Labor
Finders” when he fell from the platform. (Id.
¶ 14). Additionally, Robinson alleges “[a]t all
times wherein Plaintiff was the employee of Labor Finders who
contracted with CEMEX for the contract labor of the
Plaintiff.” (Id. ¶ 20).
27, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of
Jefferson County, Alabama, against CEMEX and Randy Martin, as
well as fictitious defendants. (Doc. 1-1 at 5-12). On August 30,
2018, Defendant CEMEX filed a notice of removal based on
diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1332, 1441, and 1446, (doc. 1), as well as a motion to
dismiss. (Doc. 3). Defendant Martin consented to removal and
filed a separate motion to dismiss. (Doc. 1-3 ¶ 6; Docs.
20, 22). On September 10, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion to
remand pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). (Doc. 7).
Plaintiff contended the court does not have diversity
jurisdiction over his complaint because CEMEX has failed to
meet its burden of proof as it relates to the amount in
controversy requirement. (Id.). The court denied the
motion to remand on October 18, 2018. (Doc. 26). The motions
to dismiss (docs. 3, 20) remain and are addressed below.
CEMEX's Motion to Dismiss
argues that Plaintiff's claims against it are barred by
the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act because it was a
“special employer” of Plaintiff. (Doc. 3 at
4-11). “Alabama law, like that of other states,
stipulates that when an employee covered by the [Alabama
Workers' Compensation] Act suffers from an injury in an
on-the-job accident, benefits under the Act are the exclusive
remedy available against the employer.” Tweedy v.
Tennessee Valley Authority, 882 F.2d 477, 479 (11th Cir.
1989) (citing Steagall v. Sloss-Sheffield Steel &
Iron Co., 205 Ala. 100, 101, 87 So. 787, 788 (1920);
Ala. Code § 25-5-53 (1975)). Specifically, the Alabama
Workers' Compensation Act includes an exclusive remedy
provision, which provides that no employer “shall be
held civilly liable for personal injury . . . to the
employer's employee . . . whose injury . . . is due to an
accident . . . which . . . originates in the
employment.” Ala. Code § 25-5-53 (1975). Alabama
law is well established that this “exclusive remedy
provision extends to ‘special employers,' which
have been described as ‘individuals or businesses who,
for practical purposes, may be considered primary or
co-employers of the injured employee.'” Gaut v.
Medrano, 630 So.2d 362, 364 (Ala. 1993) (quoting
Rhodes v. Alabama Power Co., 599 So.2d 27,
28 (Ala. 1992)).
Alabama Supreme Court has adopted the following test to
determine whether an employer qualifies as ...