IN RE PAULSBORO DERAILMENT CASES CYNTHIA LORD, et al., Plaintiffs,
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION, et al. Defendants. Civil No. 12-7747 (RBK/KMW)
OPINION (Doc. Nos. 158, 20).
ROBERT B. KUGLER, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on the motion of Consolidated Rail Corporation, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, and CSX Transportation ("Defendants") to dismiss Counts IV and VI of the Amended Complaint of Cynthia Lord et al. ("Plaintiffs") pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part, DENIED in part.
This case arises out of the November 30, 2012, derailment of a freight train and subsequent chemical spill in Paulsboro, New Jersey. This Court has issued several recent opinions describing the factual background underlying this case and a number of other cases currently pending before this Court. For a more detailed factual background, see the Court's Opinion of October 4, 2013 in Wilson v. Consol. Rail Corp., Civil No. 12-7586 (Docket No. 36).
Plaintiffs in this matter appear to be a number of adults and minors who allege that they suffered physical injuries as a result of exposure to vinyl chloride that spilled from one or more railroad cars. Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 94-96. Evidently, some plaintiffs also allege property damage as a result of Defendants' conduct. Id . at ¶ 113. The Plaintiffs brought suit under theories of negligence, medical monitoring, nuisance and trespass, seeking both compensatory and punitive damages. It is only the counts for medical monitoring and trespass that are the subject of the motion presently before the Court.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
A. Choice of Law
Because the Court hears this case pursuant to its diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, it must apply state substantive law and federal procedural law. Chaimberlain v. Giampapa , 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000). The choice-of-law rules of the forum state control in this case. Warriner v. Stanton , 475 F.3d 497, 499-500 (3d Cir. 2007). Under New Jersey choice-of-law principles, there is a presumption that the law of the place of injury governs, unless another state has a more significant relationship to the parties and the issues. P.V. ex rel. T.V. v. Camp Jaycee , 197 N.J. 132, 142-43 (2008). Here, the parties point to no state other than New Jersey whose law would potentially apply to this matter; accordingly, we assume, as the parties have, that New Jersey bears the most significant relationship to the issues now before the Court.
B. Motion to Dismiss
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a court to dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When evaluating a motion to dismiss, "courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny , 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). In other words, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
To make this determination, a court conducts a three-part analysis. Santiago v. Warminster Twp. , 629 F.3d 121, 130 (3d Cir. 2010). First, the court must "tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead to state a claim." Id . (quoting Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 675). Second, the court should identify allegations that, "because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Id . at 131 (quoting Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 680). Finally, "where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement for relief." Id . (quoting Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 680). This plausibility determination is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 679. A complaint cannot survive where a court can only infer that a claim is merely possible rather than plausible. Id.
A. Medical ...