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George Brown v. Sportsart America

October 25, 2012

GEORGE BROWN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SPORTSART AMERICA, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant SportsArt Industrial Co. Ltd.'s (SportsArt Industrial) motion to dismiss. The court notes that SportsArt Industrial has also filed a motion for leave to file a sur-reply, contending that Brown raised additional issues in his sur-reply. Although Brown did not raise new issues in his sur-reply, the court has considered SportsArt Industrial's filing in ruling on the instant motion. Therefore, SportsArt Industrial's motion for leave to file a sur-reply is granted. However, for the reasons stated below, SportsArt Industrial's motion to dismiss is denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff George Brown (Brown) alleges that on September 19, 2009, he was injured while using a horizontal leg press machine (Leg Press) during physical therapy. Brown initially brought strict liability and negligence claims against Defendant Sports Art America, Inc. (SportsArt America), alleging that SportsArt America was the designer, manufacturer, seller and distributor of the Leg Press. On April 5, 2012, shortly after the instant action was reassigned to the undersigned judge, Brown filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint adding SportsArt Industrial as a Defendant. After the parties briefed the issue of whether Brown should be granted leave to file a first amended complaint, the court granted Brown's motion.

On June 21, 2012, Brown filed his first amended complaint, alleging that both SportsArt America and SportsArt Industrial designed, manufactured, sold, assembled and distributed the Leg Press. Brown includes in his first amended complaint a strict liability claim brought against SportsArt America (Count I), a negligence claim brought against SportsArt America (Count II), a strict liability claim brought against SportsArt Industrial (Count III), and a negligence claim against SportsArt Industrial (Count IV). SportsArt Industrial now moves to dismiss the claims brought against it.

LEGAL STANDARD

In ruling on a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Rule 12(b)(6)), the court must draw all reasonable inferences that favor the plaintiff, construe the allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations in the complaint. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012); Thompson v. Ill. Dep't of Prof'l Regulation, 300 F.3d 750, 753 (7th Cir. 2002). A plaintiff is required to include allegations in the complaint that "plausibly suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief, raising that possibility above a 'speculative level'" and "if they do not, the plaintiff pleads itself out of court."

E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007)(quoting in part Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)); see also Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d at 622 (stating that "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," and that "[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")(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009))(internal quotations omitted).

DISCUSSION

SportsArt Industrial argues that the claims brought against it should be dismissed because they are barred by the statute of limitations. Under Illinois law, the statute of limitations on Brown's claims is two-years. 735 ILCS 5/13-202. Brown was injured on September 19, 2009. Thus, the statute of limitations expired on Brown's claims on September 19, 2011. Brown filed his original complaint on September 23, 2010, naming only SportsArt America as a defendant. On April 5, 2012, Brown filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, and on June 21, 2012, Brown filed his first amended complaint adding SportsArt Industrial as a defendant. Thus, Brown's claims against SportsArt Industrial would be barred by the statute of limitations unless the first amended complaint relates back to the date of the original complaint.

SportsArt Industrial argues that the first amended complaint does not relate back to the date of the original complaint. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1) (Rule 15(c)(1)),

[a]n amendment to a pleading relates back to the date of the original pleading when:

(A) the law that provides the applicable statute of limitations allows relation back;

(B) the amendment asserts a claim or defense that arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out--or attempted to be ...


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