upon the pleader's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Since the long-established federal policy of civil litigation is to decide cases on the proofs, district courts generally disfavor Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Melo-Sonics Corp. v. Cropp, 342 F.2d 856 (3d Cir. 1965); Panek v. Bogucz, 718 F. Supp. 1228, 1229 (D.N.J. 1989).
In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, all allegations in the pleadings must be accepted as true and the plaintiff must be given the benefit of every favorable inference that can be drawn from those allegations. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 48, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957); Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 83 n.1 (3d Cir. 1987). "All the rules require is a short and plain statement of the claim that gives the defendant fair notice of the plaintiff's claim and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley, 355 U.S. at 47.
Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance "dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-27, 104 L. Ed. 2d 338, 109 S. Ct. 1827 (1989). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974), overruled, not in relevant part, by, Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183, 82 L. Ed. 2d 139, 104 S. Ct. 3012 (1984).
Accepting the facts in the pleadings as true and giving them all reasonable inferences, a court must dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) "if as a matter of law 'it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.'" Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 326-27.
B. Choice of Law
Because the materiality of a factual dispute is determined by the applicable substantive law, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 at 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505, the Court must generally determine as a threshold matter whether New Jersey or New York law applies. A federal court sitting in diversity determines the substantive law to be applied by looking to the choice of law rules of the forum state. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487, 496-97, 85 L. Ed. 1477, 61 S. Ct. 1020 (1941); Shields v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 810 F.2d 397 (3d Cir. 1987).
Defendants claim that a dismissal of Plaintiff's claims is warranted under either New York or New Jersey law, the only two possible choices of law in light of the Amended Complaint. (Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Failure to State a Claim ("Moving Br.") at 6 n.3.) Defendants also suggest that since discovery has not begun it is premature to determine the applicable substantive law. (Defendants' Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Failure to State a Claim ("Rep. Br.") at 2 n.1.) In contrast, Plaintiff argues that New Jersey law clearly governs this dispute. (Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition to the Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss the Complaint ("Opp. Br.") at 8-12.)
Some New Jersey courts have held that they did not possess sufficient facts prior to discovery to make choice of law evaluations. See, e.g., D'Agostino v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 115 N.J. 491, 497, 559 A.2d 420 (1989); El-Maksoud v. El-Maksoud, 237 N.J. Super. 483, 491, 568 A.2d 140 (1989). Other courts, however, have performed detailed choice of law analyses on motions to dismiss made prior to discovery. See, e.g., Aetna Sur. & Cas. Co. v. Sacchetti, 956 F. Supp. 1163, 1168-71 (D.N.J. 1996) (Rule 12(b)(6) motion); Yglesias v. Simmons Market Research Bureau, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4167, No. 90-3898 (CSF), 1991 WL 49744, at *2 (D.N.J. Apr. 1, 1991) (same); Mowrey v. Duriron Co., Inc., 260 N.J. Super. 402, 413-16, 616 A.2d 1300 (App. Div. 1992) (motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds); see also Heavner v. Uniroyal, Inc., 63 N.J. 130, 135-141, 305 A.2d 412 (motion to dismiss due to expiration of the statute of limitations).
Even if it is not premature to make a choice of law determination, this Court finds no need to do so because Plaintiff fails to state a claim under either New Jersey or New York law. See Rohm and Haas Co. v. Adco Chem. Co., 689 F.2d 424, 429 (3d Cir. 1982) ("[When] application of the law of each state to the facts . . . leads to the same outcome. . . . a 'false conflict' exists, [and] New Jersey conflicts of law rules permit the resolution of the case without a choice between the laws of the two states.") (citations omitted); Mueller by Mueller v. Parke Davis, 252 N.J. Super. 347, 355, 599 A.2d 950 (App. Div. 1991).
Defendants' first series of arguments assert that they owed no duty to prevent the alleged harms. Under both New Jersey and New York law, the existence of a duty is a question for the court. Strachan v. John F. Kennedy Mem'l Hosp., 109 N.J. 523, 538 A.2d 346 ("The question of whether a duty exists is a matter of law properly decided by the court . . . and is largely a question of fairness or policy."); Purdy v. Public Adm'r, 72 N.Y.2d 1, 526 N.E.2d 4, 6-7, 530 N.Y.S.2d 513 (N.Y. 1988) ("The question of whether a member or group of society owes a duty of care to reasonably avoid injury to another is of course a question of law for the courts.") (citations omitted). When no duty exists, dismissal for failure to state a claim is proper. See Griesenbeck v. Walker, 199 N.J. Super. 132, 141-42, 488 A.2d 1038 (App. Div. 1985); McCarthy v. Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc., 916 F. Supp. 366, 369 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (applying New York law), aff'd, 119 F.3d 148 (2d Cir. 1997).
Under New Jersey products liability law, negligence is no longer viable as a separate claim for harm caused by a defective product. Oquendo v. Bettcher Indus., Inc., 939 F. Supp. 357, 361 (D.N.J. 1996) (citing N.J.S.A. § 2A:58C-1; Tirrell v. Navistar Int'l, Inc., 248 N.J. Super. 390, 398, 591 A.2d 643 (App. Div. 1991)). Because Plaintiff's negligence count is based on harm caused by Defendant's allegedly defective products, it falls squarely within New Jersey's Product Liability Act (the "Act"), codified at N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1 et seq. Oquendo, 939 F. Supp. at 361. Therefore, Plaintiff's claim of negligence is subsumed by its products liability claims. Id.
Plaintiff's remaining claims allege different theories of products liability. Thus, under New Jersey Law, the starting point for whether a duty exists must be the Act. The New Jersey Supreme Court, in Zaza v. Marquess and Nell, Inc., set forth the relevant legal framework:
Under strict products liability a manufacturer has a duty to ensure that the products it places into the stream of commerce are safe when used for their intended purposes. The focus in a strict liability case is on the product itself.
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