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Highland Trucking LLC v. Fleetmatics

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

January 23, 2019

HIGHLAND TRUCKING, LLC, SOUTHERN ARMOUR FREIGHT, INC., KK'S TRUCKING, LLC, JEB EXPRESS, LLC, and GAP TRUCKING, LLC, Individually and on behalf of themselves and Others similarly situated Plaintiffs,
v.
FLEETMATICS, a Verizon Corporation d/b/a VERIZON CONNECT FLEET USA, LLC and VERIZON CONNECT FLEET USA, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KARON OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In 1984, the fast food chain Wendy's introduced the catchphrase “Where's the beef?” into the American lexicon. See Wikipedia, Where's the beef?, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where%27s_the_beef%3F (as of Jan. 23, 2019, 10:00 CST). The commercial featured three elderly women examining a hamburger that featured “a very big fluffy bun” but a disappointingly miniscule patty. Today, the phrase typically expresses a skeptical attitude toward something that offers fluff but no substance.

         This matter comes before the court on Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint for failing to state a federal cause of action. (Doc. 9). Despite invoking 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the complaint failed to identify a federally protected right or to allege that Defendants acted under color of law. So this court ordered Plaintiffs to show cause why this court should not dismiss this case without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction-its own way of asking “where's the beef?” (Doc. 12). But Plaintiffs' response, (doc. 13), and proposed amended complaint, (doc. 15-1) did not provide any beef, only more fluffy buns.

         So, for the reasons stated below, this court will DENY Plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint as futile and will GRANT Defendants' motion to dismiss and will DISMISS WITHOUT PREJUDICE Plaintiffs' complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. Standard of Review

         Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss standard of review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits a district court to dismiss for “lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “A defendant can move to dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction by either facial or factual attack.” Stalley v. Orlando Reg'l Healthcare Sys., 524 F.3d 1229, 1232 (11th Cir. 2008). For a facial attack, which Defendants bring, the court accepts as true the factual allegations in the complaint and merely looks to see “if the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject matter jurisdiction.” Id.at 1232-33 (quotation marks, citation, and alterations omitted).

         Section 1331 of Title 28 of the United States Code provides that “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In general, “a case arises under federal law only if it is federal law that creates the cause of action.” Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1502, 1505 (11th Cir. 1996). The case may also arise under federal law if “the right to relief under state law requires resolution of a substantial question of federal law in dispute between the parties.” Id. (quotation marks omitted) (emphasis added). “[T]he mere presence of a federal issue in a state cause of action” is not substantial and does not confer subject matter jurisdiction on the court. Id. (quotation marks omitted).

         Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss standard of review

         Defendants' move to dismiss Count One of Plaintiffs' complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). A Rule 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, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” 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.

         The 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.

         II. Factual Background

         The United States Congress enacted the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Bill in 2012. The bill governs federal surface transportation spending and specifically includes a provision requiring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to develop a rule mandating that commercial motor vehicles use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to ensure drivers' compliance with Hours of Service requirements.

         Plaintiffs, all private trucking and hauling companies, allege that they contracted with Defendants, both private companies, to timely install compliant ELDs in the Plaintiffs' fleet, as well as provide necessary maintenance, training, customer service, and monitoring. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 12). Despite the alleged ...


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