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Hamby v. Baylor Trucking

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division

July 23, 2019

JERRY HAMBY, Plaintiff,



         After he was seriously injured in a workplace accident, Plaintiff Jerry Hamby filed a “shotgun complaint” against Defendant Baylor Trucking and others. Baylor Trucking now moves to dismiss several of Hamby's claims. It also moves for a more definite statement of his complaint. (Doc. # 3.) Both motions are due to be granted.


         The court has diversity subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The named parties are completely diverse (Doc. # 1, at 3), and the court ignores the citizenship of Defendants sued under fictitious names. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(1). Baylor Trucking has shown that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Doc. # 1, at 4-6.) See Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001). No. one contests personal jurisdiction or venue.


         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the legal standard set forth in Rule 8: ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Wilborn v. Jones, 761 Fed.Appx. 908, 910 (11th Cir. 2019) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). The Supreme Court wrote the grading rubric for that test in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

         “To 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). This standard “is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Offering mere “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. In part, that is because legal conclusions are not entitled to a presumption of truth. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678- 81; McCullough v. Finley, 907 F.3d 1324, 1333 (11th Cir. 2018). The upshot is that a complaint must “include factual allegations for each essential element of [each] claim.” GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc. v. Georgia, 687 F.3d 1244, 1254 (11th Cir. 2012).

         Rule 9(b) demands even more specificity whenever a complaint alleges fraud: A party “must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). “Failure to satisfy Rule 9(b) is a ground for dismissal of a complaint.” Corsello v. Lincare, Inc., 428 F.3d 1008, 1012 (11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam).

         Under Rule 12(e), a defendant “may move for a more definite statement” of a complaint that “is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). When faced with a shotgun complaint, a defendant should move for a more definite statement under Rule 12(e). Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 792 F.3d 1313, 1321 n.10 (11th Cir. 2015).


         In December 2017, Jerry Hamby was loading a semi-trailer (the cargo part of an eighteen-wheeler) in Chambers County, Alabama. The trailer was not hitched to a tractor, and it had no front axle, so a metal stand supported its front end. But while Hamby was inside the trailer, the metal stand suddenly broke. The trailer's front end crashed to the ground, and the cargo inside it tumbled. As a result, Hamby was badly hurt. (Doc. # 1-1, at 2-3.)

         Hamby later filed a personal injury lawsuit in Alabama state court. He named Baylor Trucking, the company that owned the trailer, as a Defendant. He also named eight fictitious Defendants: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and X. (Doc. # 1-1, at 1-2.)[1] The complaint raises seven claims against each Defendant: negligence (Count One); liability under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine (Count Two); strict products liability (Count Three); failure to warn (Count Four); misrepresentation, fraud, suppression, and deceit (Count Five); breach of implied warranty (Count Six); and breach of express warranty (Count Seven). (See generally Doc. # 1-1, at 5-13.)

         Baylor Trucking properly removed the action to federal court. (Doc. # 1.) See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a), 1446(b); Murphy Bros. v. Michetti Pipe Stringing, Inc., 526 U.S. 344, 347 (1999). It then moved to dismiss all of Count Three and Count Five, as well as part of Count One. (Doc. # 3.) It also moved for a more definite statement of the complaint. (Doc. # 3.) Those motions are now ripe. (See Docs. # 10, 12.)

         IV. ...

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