James v. General Dynamics Corporation et al

Filing 49

ORDER denying 45 Motion for Leave to File; denying 46 Motion for Leave to File; granting 17 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 8/7/17. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 DISTRICT OF ALASKA 10 11 Dayle James, 12 13 14 Plaintiff, vs. General Dynamic Corp., et al., 15 Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 3:17-cv-00046 JWS ORDER AND OPINION [Re: Motions at Dockets 17, 45, & 46] 16 17 I. MOTIONS PRESENTED 18 At docket 17 defendant Tote Maritime Alaska, Inc. (“Tote”)1 moves pursuant to 19 Rules 12(b)(1) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order dismissing 20 plaintiff Dayle James’ (“James”) claims against it. The declarations of Grace Greene 21 and Hugh L. Simpson supporting the motion are at dockets 19 and 20, respectively. 22 James opposes at docket 30, and her lawyer’s declaration is at docket 31. Tote replies 23 at docket 43. 24 After the motion was fully briefed, James filed two motions to supplement her 25 opposition with evidence she obtained in discovery. At docket 45 James filed a “Motion 26 to Permit Filing of Descovery [sic] Documents From General Dynamics Defendants In 27 Support of Plaintiff’s Opposition to [Tote’s] Motion to Dismiss.” At docket 46 she filed a 28 1 Defendant Tote, Inc. was originally a moving party, but it has since been dismissed from this case. Doc. 33. 1 “Motion to Permit Filing of Descovery [sic] Responses of [Tote].” Tote opposes both 2 motions at docket 47. James did not reply. 3 4 Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court’s resolution of the motions. 5 6 II. BACKGROUND According to the complaint, Tote operated a ship that in March 2015 transported 7 Army Stryker vehicles from the west coast of the United States to Anchorage. The 8 Strykers were offloaded at the Port of Anchorage onto rail cars for transportation to 9 Joint Base Eielson-Wainwright. Charlie Thomas James, Jr. (“Mr. James”) was a 10 longshoreman tasked with guiding the vehicles onto the rail cars. James contends that 11 the breaks on one of the vehicles failed, causing it to crush Mr. James between two 12 Stryker vehicles, killing him. 13 Tote moves to dismiss, arguing that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction 14 and, alternatively, that James’ complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be 15 granted. The court cannot reach Tote’s latter argument because it lacks subject matter 16 jurisdiction.2 17 18 III. STANDARD OF REVIEW Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to seek dismissal of an 19 action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff then bears the burden of 20 proving jurisdiction.3 There are two types of Rule 12(b)(1) jurisdictional attacks: facial 21 and factual.4 “In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations contained in 22 a complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction. By contrast, in a 23 24 25 26 2 Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998) (“‘Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause.’”) (qutoing Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. 506, 514 (1868)). 27 3 28 4 Tosco v. Cmtys. for a Better Env’t, 236 F.3d 495, 499 (9th Cir. 2000). White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000). -2- 1 factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by themselves, 2 would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.”5 3 Where the defendant brings a facial attack, the court assumes the factual 4 allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint are true and draws all reasonable inferences in 5 the plaintiff’s favor.6 But the court does not accept the truth of legal conclusions cast in 6 the form of factual allegations.7 7 Where the defendant brings a factual attack, “the district court may review 8 evidence beyond the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion 9 for summary judgment.”8 “It also need not presume the truthfulness of the plaintiffs’ 10 allegations.”9 “Once the moving party has converted the motion to dismiss into a factual 11 motion by presenting affidavits or other evidence properly brought before the court, the 12 party opposing the motion must furnish affidavits or other evidence necessary to satisfy 13 its burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction.”10 14 Tote’s motion brings a facial jurisdictional attack to James’ complaint. As such, 15 there is no need to consider evidence beyond the complaint. James’ motions at 16 dockets 45 and 46 are denied. 17 18 19 IV. DISCUSSION James asserts that admiralty jurisdiction lies over her claims against Tote. To invoke federal admiralty jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1), James “must 20 21 22 5 23 Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). 6 24 25 Doe v. Holy See, 557 F.3d 1066, 1073 (9th Cir. 2009). 7 Id. 26 8 27 9 28 10 Meyer, 373 F.3d at 1039. White, 227 F.3d at 1242 (citations omitted). Savage v. Glendale Union High Sch., 343 F.3d 1036, 1039 n.2 (9th Cir. 2003). -3- 1 satisfy conditions both of location and of connection with maritime activity.”11 The 2 location condition traditionally asked “whether the tort occurred on navigable waters. If 3 it did, admiralty jurisdiction followed; if it did not, admiralty jurisdiction did not exist.”12 A 4 second way to satisfy the location condition emerged from the Extension of Admiralty 5 Jurisdiction Act, which provides that “[t]he admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the 6 United States extends to and includes cases of injury or damage, to person or property, 7 caused by a vessel on navigable waters, even though the injury or damage is done or 8 consummated on land.” 13 Taken together, these two tests ask “whether the tort 9 occurred on navigable water or whether injury suffered on land was caused by a vessel 10 on navigable water.”14 11 The court need not consider whether the second condition (connection with 12 maritime activity) is satisfied because James’ complaint fails to satisfy the location 13 condition. James argues that Tote’s tort occurred aboard the ship when it “became 14 aware of the defective brakes,” but failed to alert the stevedore in Anchorage.15 James 15 cites no authority in support of this argument because the caselaw is contrary: The 16 location of the tort is the location of the injury.16 Here, the complaint alleges that the 17 injury occurred on land (and was not caused by a vessel on navigable waters).17 18 19 11 20 12 21 Jerome B. Grubart, Inc. v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U.S. 527, 534 (1995). Id. at 531–32. 13 46 U.S.C. § 30101(a). 22 14 23 Grubart, 513 U.S. at 534. 15 24 Doc. 30 at 9. 16 25 26 27 28 See Guidry v. Durkin, 834 F.2d 1465, 1469 (9th Cir. 1987) (“Where it is clear that tortious injury occurs solely ashore, the federal courts are generally without admiralty jurisdiction.”) (emphasis added). 17 Doc. 5 at 4 ¶ 13 (“Charlie Thomas James, Jr., at the time of his death, had been given the job of guiding the Stryker vehicles on the rail cars (2 per rail car) to the point where they would be chained or strapped down to the rail car. This required James to positon [sic] himself -4- 1 Admiralty jurisdiction does not lie. James’ claims against Tote will be dismissed without 2 prejudice.18 3 V. CONCLUSION 4 Based on the preceding discussion, the motion at docket 17 is GRANTED and 5 the motions at dockets 45 and 46 are DENIED. James’ claims against Tote Maritime 6 Alaska Inc. are hereby dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without prejudice 7 to James’ ability to pursue them in state court. 8 DATED this 7th day of August 2017. 9 10 /s/ JOHN W. SEDWICK SENIOR JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 in front of the Stryker vehicle so the driver could observe his signals, due to the limited visibility of the Stryker driver.”). 18 See Frigard v. United States, 862 F.2d 201, 204 (9th Cir. 1988) (“Ordinarily, a case dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction should be dismissed without prejudice so that a plaintiff may reassert his claims in a competent court.”). -5-

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