MINGIONE v. NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Stanley R. Chesler on 7/8/15. (DD, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER
CORP., et al,
Civil Action No. 15-1466 (SRC)
CHESLER, District Judge
This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants’ motion to dismiss pro se Plaintiff’s
Complaint. Plaintiff opposes the motions. The Court has considered the parties’ submissions
and proceeds to rule without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant
Defendants’ motion and dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint without prejudice.
The Court gathers the following facts from Plaintiff’s Complaint and assumes them to be
true for purposes of this motion only. The Court does not incorporate the facts set forth by
Plaintiff in her supplemental certifications. 1
On May 18, 2015, Plaintiff rode an Amtrak train that was traveling from Chicago,
Illinois, to California. On that ride, an Amtrak employee, Antoine Bass (“Bass”) falsely accused
Plaintiff of stealing a wicker basket, and threatened to have Plaintiff removed from the train.
In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider the allegations of the
complaint, as well as documents attached to or specifically referenced in the complaint, and matters
of public record. See Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 259 (3d Cir. 1998).
Plaintiff explained to Bass that she was disabled and did not steal anything. Plaintiff was not
removed from the train.
In January of 2015, Plaintiff filed a three-count complaint in New Jersey state court
against Defendants the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”) and Bass
(collectively “Defendants”). In February of 2015, Defendants removed the case to Federal Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. On March 6, 2015, Defendants moved to dismiss.
Plaintiff proceeds pro se and the Court thus holds her pleadings to a less stringent
standard than those filed by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972).
Nevertheless, to state a claim that survives a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To prevent dismissal
of a claim, the complaint must show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Fowler v. UPMC
Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009).
Here, Plaintiff has failed to plead any plausible claim for relief. The Court construes
Count 1 of Plaintiff’s Complaint as a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, which
Plaintiff appears to endorse in her reply brief (docket entry 11, pp. 5-8). To sustain that claim,
Plaintiff must plead either that she observed the casualty of her close family member -- which
she does not allege -- or that Defendants’ negligence caused her “a reasonable fear of immediate
personal injury” that caused “substantial bodily injury or sickness.” Jablonowska v. Suther, 948
A.2d 610, 617 (N.J. 2008). Alleging only that Defendants accused her of stealing and threatened
to -- but did not attempt to -- remove her from the train, Plaintiff has not pleaded any facts which
would give rise to a “reasonable” fear of immediate personal injury. Plaintiff has also not
pleaded that she suffered any substantial bodily injury or sickness as a result of such fear.
In Count 2, Plaintiff pleads that Defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress
upon her. That claim requires Plaintiff to plead, among other things, that Defendants’ conduct
was extreme and outrageous. Buckley v. Trenton Saving Fund Soc., 544 A.2d 857, 863 (N.J.
1988). Falsely accusing someone of stealing a wicker basket and threatening to remove them
from a train, however impolite or improper it may be, is simply not “so outrageous in character,
and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as
atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” Id.
Last, Plaintiff asserts in Count 3 that Defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities
Act by denying her the enjoyment of the train ride. Plaintiff fails to plead information
demonstrating that she is, in fact, plausibly covered under the ADA, that she was plausibly
excluded from a right protected under that act, or that Defendants’ conduct was based on a
disability. See generally 42 U.S.C. § 12132. While the Court construes the Complaint in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff, it need not accept a “legal conclusion couched as factual
allegation,” Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 F.3d 187, 195 (3d Cir. 2007), and in this instance,
Plaintiff’s third count amounts to a legal conclusion.
For these reasons, Plaintiff fails to state any plausible claim for relief, and the Court will
accordingly dismiss the Complaint without prejudice. An appropriate Order will be filed.
s/ Stanley R. Chesler
STANLEY R. CHESLER
United States District Judge
Dated: July 8, 2015
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