Dialysis Clinic, Inc. et al v. City of Dothan, Alabama et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER directing that the 11 Motion to Dismiss is DENIED, as further set out. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 5/9/11. (scn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
DIALYSIS CLINIC, INC., et al.,
CITY OF DOTHAN, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:10-cv-1051
(WO- DO NOT PUBLISH)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This cause is before the Court on the Defendant Bay Line Railroad, LLC’s (“Bay
Line”) Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Doc. #
11). For the following reasons, the motion is due to be DENIED.
I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE
This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332, as the parties are completely diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds
$75,000. The parties do not assert that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them,
and there is no dispute that venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a).
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Therefore, for
the purposes of adjudging a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court will accept as true
all well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. See Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008); Am. United
Life Ins. Co. v. Martinez, 480 F.3d 1043, 1057 (11th Cir. 2007).
While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only that a complaint
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief,” as a general matter, to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the
plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007). “A 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, 129
S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009). The plaintiff must provide “more than labels and conclusions,
and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 559. It is not sufficient that the pleadings merely leave “open the possibility
that a plaintiff might later establish some set of undisclosed facts to support recovery.”
Id. at 561 (internal quotation and alteration omitted).
If, as in this case, a party presents matters outside the pleadings for the Court’s
consideration on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court may either exclude the
evidence or construe the motion as one for summary judgment under Rule 56. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(d).
III. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff Dialysis Clinic, Inc. (“Dialysis”) owned and operated a dialysis clinic in
Dothan, Alabama. On March 28, 2009, flood waters entered the clinic and damaged the
clinic’s expensive dialysis equipment. Dialysis contends that the flood was caused by a
defectively designed culvert and drainage system designed by defendant Northstar and
installed by defendants Bay Line and Chatahoochee Bay Railroad Inc. (“Chatahoochee”).
Dialysis claims that Bay Line and Chatahoochee sought to widen the railroad line that
runs above the culvert. When the railroads widened the line, they installed a pipe to
lengthen the culvert accordingly. According to Dialysis, Bay Line and Chatahoochee
installed a pipe that was too small to handle the volume of water draining into the culvert.
When heavy rains ensued, the water wasn’t able to enter the culvert and flooded the
Dialysis sued Bay Line and Chatahoochee, alleging that the railroads had a duty to
use reasonable care when installing the culvert, and that they breached that duty by
installing an undersized pipe to direct water into the culvert. Dialysis seeks recovery on
both negligence and wantonness theories of liability.
Bay Line has moved to dismiss the claims against it on the basis that
Chatahoochee, and not Bay Line, owned the railroad line that runs above the culvert. Bay
Line contends that at no time did it ever own, maintain, repair, or modify the tracks
located above the culvert in question here. In support of its motion, Bay Line submits the
affidavit of Allen D. Swindall, Bay Line’s Assistant Vice President.
Because Bay Line submitted evidence to support its motion to dismiss, the Court
must either exclude the evidence or construe the motion as one made pursuant to Rule 56.
Because the parties have not had adequate time to complete discovery in this case, and
therefore Dialysis had not had adequate opportunity to contradict Bay Line’s factual
assertions, the Court will not construe this motion as a motion for summary judgment.
Therefore, the Iqbal/Twombly standard applies here.
As stated above, the Court must take as true all well-pleaded factual allegations
contained in the complaint. The complaint clearly alleges that Bay Line constructed,
designed, and maintained the culvert and widened the railroad line that runs over the
culvert. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 26, 36). Because the Court must take these allegations as true, Bay
Line cannot establish as a matter of law that they owed no duty to Dialysis. It is hereby
ORDERED that the motion to dismiss (Doc. # 11) is DENIED.
Done this the 9 day of May, 2011.
/s/ Mark E. Fuller
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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