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Margaret A. Bulanda, Individually and As Special Administrator of v. A.W. Chesterton Company

June 7, 2011

MARGARET A. BULANDA, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN R. OLIPHANT, SR., DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
A.W. CHESTERTON COMPANY, A CORPORATION, CBS CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, GREENE, TWEED & CO., A CORPORATION, JOHN J. MORONEY & COMPANY, A CORPORATION, MIDWEST GENERATION EME, L.L.C., A CORPORATION, PAUL J. KREZ COMPANY, A CORPORATION, RAPID AMERICAN CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, & TEXACO, INC., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Amy J. St. Eve

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge:

Defendant, Greene, Tweed, & Company ("Greene" or "Defendant"), has filed a motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint of Plaintiff, Margaret A. Bulanda ("Bulanda" or "Plaintiff"). (R. 16.) For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendant's motion to dismiss, without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Bulanda, acting individually as special administrator on behalf of the estate of John R. Oliphant, Sr., ("Decedent"), has brought a negligence and wrongful-death action against a number of corporations, which include Defendant Greene, Tweed, & Company ("Greene" or "Defendant"). (R. 9.) Bulanda contends that Defendants negligently caused Decedent to work with, and be exposed to, asbestos through their products and premises. (Id. at 3-5.) She alleges that Greene is liable for negligence under a products-liability theory and for wrongful death. (Id. at 2-5.)

Greene has filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the First Amended Complaint ("the Complaint") does not give rise to a plausible right to relief because it "fails [to] identify any specific Greene Tweed & Co. product(s) to which Plaintiff was allegedly exposed[.]" (R. 16 at1.) Greene further submits that, because the Complaint fails to explain how Defendant's products contributed to, or caused, Decedent's injuries and subsequent death, it does not state a products-liability claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. (Id. at 2.)

LEGAL STANDARD

"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). As the Seventh Circuit has explained, this "[r]ule reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which is intended to 'focus litigation on the merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities[.]" Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)). This short and plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Under federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must beenough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Stated differently, a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- U.S. --, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).

Additionally, "when ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009) (holding that the court construes complaints in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all possible inferences in the plaintiff's favor).

ANALYSIS

I. The Complaint Fails to State a Claim Under Rule 8

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Defendant contends that the Complaint fails to meet this standard because it does not link any particular product with Greene or even allege that any particular product of Greene caused, or contributed to, his injuries. (R. 16 at 2.) Greene maintains that "Plaintiff instead attempts to group Greene . . . into a group of other manufacturers, miners and/or sellers of 'asbestos products.' This is precisely the type of vague, 'defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation' that the Supreme Court has condemned." (Id. at 3 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1937.) The Court agrees.

The Complaint is devoid of factual allegations regarding Greene's conduct, which allegedly renders the company liable for negligence and wrongful death. Other than in the first paragraph, where it lists all of the Defendants by name, the Complaint makes no distinct reference to Greene. Instead, it makes a number of generic allegations as to the Defendants collectively. (R. 9 at passim.) Those allegations that do exist are either legal conclusions or recitations of the elements of the relevant cause of action. See Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 ("[A] pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'") (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545.) The Complaint makes no reference ...


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