Crown Pacific International, Inc. v. Horizon Lines, LLC
ORDER GRANTING 5 Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED in their entirety without prejudice. The clerk is directed to close the file. Signed by US District Judge Terrence W. Boyle on 3/26/2014. (Fisher, M.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CROWN PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL, INC.,
HORIZON LINES, LLC,
This matter is before the Court on defendant Horizon Lines, LLC' s ("Horizon") motion
to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). [DE 5]. Plaintiff has not
responded to the motion, but the deadline for doing so has passed making motion ripe for
adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED without
On January 13, 2014, plaintiff filed a one page complaint against defendant in Wake
County District Court. Plaintiff alleges that defendant negligently placed goods on an incorrect
vessel which resulted in a delay and costs to the plaintiff. Defendant removed the case to this
Court on February 12, 2014 alleging that the complaint implicates a contract for the carriage of
foods in maritime commerce and therefore a federal question. On February 19, defendant filed
the instant motion to dismiss alleging that plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted.
Although FED. R. CIV. P. 41 "authorizes the Court to dismiss an action for failure of the
plaintiff to respond to a motion to dismiss, most courts do not apply such an unforgiving and
relentless sanction simply because a motion to dismiss goes unopposed." McRae v. Robeson
Cnty. Bd of Elections, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20680, *12 (E.D.N.C. Jan. 27, 2010)
(unpublished) (quotation omitted). The Court declines to do so here.
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for which relief can be
granted challenges the legal sufficiency of a plaintiffs complaint. Francis v. Giacomelli, 588
F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009). When ruling on the motion, the court "must accept as true all of
the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94
(2007) (citing Bell At!. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007)). Although complete and
detailed factual allegations are not required, "a plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of
his 'entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
(citations omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Similarly, a court need not accept as true a plaintiffs "unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or arguments." Eastern Shore Mkts. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd,
213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). A trial court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
The issue before the Court is whether an alleged delay, without more, of a shipment of
goods via an ocean-going ship, between two states, amounts to an actionable breach of contract
of carriage goods. It does not.
The only factual allegations against defendant that can be taken from plaintiffs
complaint, ignoring the naked assertion of negligence, that could possibly support its claim for
breach of a shipping contract concern a "delayed departure of the shipment." However, delay
alone cannot amount to a breach of a shipping contract absent a specific agreement for delivery
at a certain time. Anyangwe v. Nedlloyd Lines, 909 F. Supp. 315, 321 (D. Md. 1995). Numerous
other courts have arrived at the same result. See e.g. Parnass Int 'l Trade & Oil Corp. V. Sea-
Land Serv., Inc., 595 F. Supp. 153, 155 (S.D.N.Y. 1984); Quesoro USA, Inc. v. Lykes Bros. S.S.
Co., Inc., 1995 WL 329301 (S.D.N.Y. May 31, 1995); Pioko Fashions, Inc. v. Am. President
Lines, Ltd., 1993 WL 597151, *2 (W.D. Wash. Jul. 1, 1993). Accordingly, the Court grants
defendant's motion to dismiss.
The Court has the discretion to grant a motion to dismiss under FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6)
with or without prejudice. Because the complaint is potentially curable in this instance, the Court
grants the motion to dismiss without prejudice.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss [DE 8] is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs claims are DISMISSED in their entirety without prejudice. The clerk is directed to
close the file.
_ik_ day of March, 2014.
T RRENCE W. BOYLE
UNITED STATES DISTRI
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