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Inc. v. GSH of Alabama, LLC

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

August 14, 2019

NAVIGATOR'S LOGISTICS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GSH OF ALABAMA, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LILES C. BURKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is defendant GSH of Alabama, LLC's (“GSH”), motion to dismiss. (Doc. 8). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         Background

         According to the pleadings, GSH is a disaster-relief contractor whose operations include providing manufactured and modular homes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Navigator's Logistics, LLC, (“Navigator's”), agreed to pick up and deliver the housing units for GSH for specified rates to be paid for each delivery. On February 27, 2018, Navigator's was in the process of completing one such delivery when its vehicle was involved in an accident[1] that damaged one of the housing units. GSH ultimately rejected delivery of the unit and refused to pay for it. Attempts to recover the lost revenue from Navigator's insurance company were unsuccessful. In its complaint, Navigator's alleged that GSH also refused to make payments on “invoices for deliveries made both before the February 27, 2018 accident, as well as after the February 27, 2018 accident.” (Doc. 1, at 4).

         On October 1, 2018, Navigator's Logistics, Inc., filed a seven-count complaint centered around GSH's failure to pay the invoices described above. Navigator's alleged the following counts against GSH: (1) breach of contract; (2) fraudulent suppression; (3) conversion; (4) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) unjust enrichment; (6) quantum meruit; and (7) account stated. On December 17, 2019, GSH filed a motion to dismiss in which it claimed that Navigator's complaint was due to be dismissed pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P.

         GSH's Motions

         In its complaint, Navigator's asserted that this Court had diversity jurisdiction over its claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), because, it said, the parties were from different states, and “the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.” GSH does not dispute that the parties are from different states but argues that Navigator's failed to adequately plead that the amount in controversy actually exceeded $75, 000, a requirement for diversity jurisdiction to lie. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between … citizens of different States….”) Therefore, GSH argued, this Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction and must dismiss the case. GSH also asserted, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., that Navigator's failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted with respect to Counts II, III, IV, and V. The Court will first address GSH's 12(b)(6) motions.

         GSH's 12(b)(6) Motions

         The Court turns first to GSH's contention that Counts II and III are due to be dismissed for failing to state a claim for which relief can be granted. Rule 12(b)(6) permits a party to move to dismiss a complaint for, among other things, “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When considering 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.” Mills v. Foremost Ins. Co., 511 F.3d 1300, 1303 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Castro v. Sec'y of Homeland Sec., 472 F.3d 1334, 1336 (11th Cir. 2006)).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter ... to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim is facially plausible when “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 679. “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. “But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'- ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679 (quoting, in part, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). Thus, the Supreme Court has “suggested that courts considering motions to dismiss adopt a ‘two-pronged approach' in applying these principles: 1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 567 (2007)). Further, Rule 9(b), Fed. R. Civ. P., requires complainants to plead fraud claims with particularity.

         Turning to Count II, Navigator's fraudulent suppression claim, federal courts in this district have noted: “In Alabama, a fraudulent suppression claim requires a plaintiff to produce substantial evidence establishing that 1) the defendant had a duty to disclose an existing material fact; 2) the defendant suppressed that material fact; 3) the defendant's suppression of that fact induced the plaintiff to act or refrain from acting; and 4) the plaintiff suffered actual damage as a proximate result.” Alabama Teachers Credit Union v. Design Build Concepts, Inc., 334 F.Supp.3d 1171, 1197 (N.D. Ala. 2018), citing Booker v. United American Ins. Co., 700 So.2d 1333, 1339 (Ala. 1997).

         Further, “Rule 9(b) of the Fed.R.Civ.P. provides heightened pleading requirements for fraud-based claims. To satisfy the rule, [a plaintiff's] fraud complaint must set forth the following:

“(1) Precisely what statements were made in what documents or oral representations or what omissions were made, and (2) the time and place of each such statement and the person responsible for making (or, in the case of omissions, not making) same, and (3) the content of such statements and the manner in which they misled the plaintiff, and (4) what the defendants obtained as a consequence of the fraud.”

Alabama Teachers Credit Union, 334 F.Supp.3d at 1198, citing Brooks v. BlueCross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1371 (11th ...


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