United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case comes before the Court on Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss or Stay Plaintiff's Action and Compel
Arbitration. [Dkt. Nos. 8, 9]. The Court has considered the
written submissions of the parties, as well as the arguments
advanced at the hearing on September 30, 2019. For the
Reasons that follow the Court grants Defendant, Atlantic Cape
Fisheries', Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
Court finds that questions of fact and credibility pertaining
to the enforceability of the Arbitration Clause at issue
preclude a determination on Defendants', F/V Atlantic
Bounty, LLC and Sea Harvest, Inc., Motion to Compel
Arbitration. The pertinent issue to be decided is whether
Plaintiff knowingly and willingly signed an Agreement
containing the relevant Arbitration Clause. The Court will
hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter and dismiss the
Motion without prejudice.
filed a Complaint with this Court on May 3, 2018 against
Atlantic Cape Fisheries, Inc. and F/V Atlantic Bounty, LLC.
On June 21, 2018 Plaintiff amended his complaint, adding Sea
Harvest, Inc. as a Defendant in this matter. Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint asserts claims for Jones Act Negligence
(Count I), Unseaworthiness (Count II), and Maintenance and
Cure (Count II). [Dkt. No. 5]. The basis of Plaintiff's
seaman claims stem from events occurring on August 28, 2017.
Specifically, Plaintiff claims that while in navigable
waters, he slipped and fell on the “centerline stopper
midship, twisting his back and causing serious
injuries” in the course of his employment on Atlantic
Bounty (the “Vessel”). Compl. at ¶¶
to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, he was an employee of
Sea Harvest, Atlantic Cape, and F/V Atlantic Bounty “as
a member of the crew of the vessel.” Id. at
¶¶25-27. He claims all three Defendants (F/V
Atlantic Bounty, Atlantic Cape Fisheries, and Sea Harvest)
also owned, possessed, managed, controlled, and operated the
Vessel. Id. ¶¶ 6-22. Plaintiff further
alleges that the three Defendants were also the Vessel's
response to Plaintiff's Complaint, Defendants F/V
Atlantic Bounty and Sea Harvest filed a Motion to Dismiss or
Stay Plaintiff's Action and Compel Arbitration pursuant
to an arbitration clause contained in Plaintiff's
employment contract, which Defendants argue is valid and
enforceable against him. [Dkt. No. 8]. Defendant Atlantic
Cape moved to Dismiss or Stay Plaintiff's Action and
Compel Arbitration separately. [Dkt. No. 9]. Atlantic Cape
argues that Plaintiff's action should be dismissed
against it because it is not a proper defendant in this case;
in the alternative, it seeks dismissal or stay of the action
pending arbitration pursuant to the same arbitration policy.
Each of the motions have been fully briefed, and the Court
heard Oral Argument on September 30, 2019.
Defendant Atlantic Cape Fisheries' Motion to
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a party to move for
dismissal of a claim based on “failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). A complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a
claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When deciding a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), ordinarily only the
allegations in the complaint, matters of public record,
orders, and exhibits attached to the complaint, are taken
into consideration. See Chester County Intermediate Unit
v. Pa. Blue Shield, 896 F.2d 808, 812 (3d Cir. 1990). It
is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead evidence.
Bogosian v. Gulf Oil Corp., 561 F.2d 434, 446 (3d
Cir. 1977). The question before the Court is not whether the
plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Watson v. Abington
Twp., 478 F.3d 144, 150 (2007). Instead, the Court
simply asks whether the plaintiff has articulated
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
“Where 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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Court need not accept “‘unsupported conclusions
and unwarranted inferences, '” Baraka v.
McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007) (citation
omitted), however, and “[l]egal conclusions made in the
guise of factual allegations . . . are given no presumption
of truthfulness.” Wyeth v. Ranbaxy Labs.,
Ltd., 448 F.Supp.2d 607, 609 (D.N.J. 2006) (citing
Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986));
see also Kanter v. Barella, 489 F.3d 170, 177 (3d
Cir. 2007) (quoting Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347,
351 (3d Cir. 2005) (“[A] court need not credit either
‘bald assertions' or ‘legal conclusions'
in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss.”)).
Accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-80 (finding that
pleadings that are no more than conclusions are not entitled
to the assumption of truth). Further, although
“detailed factual allegations” are not necessary,
“a plaintiff's obligation to provide the
‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to relief'
requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of a cause of action's elements will not
do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal
citations omitted). See also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
motion to dismiss should be granted unless the
plaintiff's factual allegations are “enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all of the complaint's allegations are
true (even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556. “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not
permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has ...