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West v. American Honda Motor Co.

August 28, 2008

MARK WEST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR COMPANY AND JOHN DOE, INC. 1-5, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court upon Defendant's motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim and Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5) for insufficiency of service of process. Because Plaintiff has failed to set forth a claim under the New Jersey Product Liability Act (PLA) and has failed to effect sufficient service of process, Defendant's motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff claims he was riding his TRX400EX Honda ATV in a wooded area in Kings Grant, Evesham Township, Burlington County, New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff alleges that when he shifted from second gear into first, his vehicle instead shifted into reverse. (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) Plaintiff claims that he was thrown forward over the handlebars and that as a result of the accident, he suffers from "breathing difficulties and injuries to his back, chest, and ribs." (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.)

Plaintiff filed a complaint against American Honda Motor Company and John Doe, Inc. (1-5, fictitious entities) in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Law Division on October 12, 2007. On January 15, 2008, the sheriff's office left the summons and complaint at Honda's Parts Center Security Office in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. On February 14, 2008, Defendant American Honda Motor Co., Inc. removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Defendant has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim and under Rule 12(b)(5) for insufficient service of process.*fn1 Plaintiff here has not opposed Defendant's motion to dismiss.*fn2

II. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, which allows this Court to hear matters based upon diversity of citizenship of the parties. Plaintiff is a resident and citizen of the State of New Jersey and Defendant is a foreign corporation, incorporated in the State of California with its principal place of business located at 1919 Torrance Boulevard, Torrance, California. (Amended Notice of Removal ¶¶ 5,6.) Defendant alleges that he believes in good faith that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00. (Amended Notice of Removal ¶ 7.)

B. Whether Plaintiff's Complaint should be Dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6)

1. Standard for Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

When considering a motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 351 (3d Cir. 2005). It is well settled that a pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Under the liberal federal pleading rules, it is not necessary to plead evidence, and it is not necessary to plead all the facts that serve as a basis for the claim. Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 562 F.2d 434, 446 (3d Cir. 1977). However, "[a]lthough the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set forth an intricately detailed description of the asserted basis for relief, they do require that the pleadings give defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Baldwin County Welcome Ctr. v. Brown, 466 U.S. 147, 149-50 n.3 (1984) (quotation and citation omitted).

A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "'not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claim.'" Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 n.8 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974)); see also Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (stating that the "Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: 'stating ... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element"). A court need not credit either "bald assertions" or "legal conclusions" in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss. In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1429-30 (3d Cir. 1997). The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. U.S., 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

Finally, a court in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must only consider the facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents attached thereto as exhibits, and matters of judicial notice. Southern Cross Overseas Agencies, Inc. v. Kwong Shipping Group Ltd., 181 F.3d 410, 426 (3d Cir. 1999). A court may consider, however, "an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document." Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If any other matters outside the pleadings are presented to the ...


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