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Meyer v. A&A Logistics, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 24, 2014

ROGER WAYNE MEYER and PEGGY JOANN MEYER, Plaintiffs,
v.
A&A LOGISTICS, INC., a Texas corporation; C.H. ROBINSON COMPANY, INC., a Minnesota corporation; C.H. ROBINSON WORLDWIDE, INC., a Delaware corporation; and ROBERTO CARLOS JASSO, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOAN B. GOTTSCHALL, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Roger Wayne Meyer and Peggy JoAnn Meyer filed a five-count amended complaint against defendants A&A Logistics, Inc. (A&A); C.H. Robinson Company, Inc. (Robinson); C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.; and Roberto Carlos Jasso. The amended complaint alleges that Mr. Jasso pulled into the right lane of an interstate from its shoulder directly in front of Mr. Meyer, and that Mr. Meyer suffered injuries as a result. Now before the court are: (1) A&A's motion to dismiss Counts I and II of the amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (2) the Robinson entities' motion to strike Count V of the amended complaint; and (3) A&A's motion to quash subpoenas to produce employee files and personnel records related to Count I of the amended complaint.

For the reasons discussed below, the motion to dismiss is granted as to Count I but denied as to Count II; the motion to strike Count V is granted in part and denied in part; and the motion to quash is granted.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The court accepts all well-pleaded allegations in the Meyers' complaint as true for purposes of the motion to dismiss. See Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank Nev., N.A., 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007).

On January 3, 2012, Mr. Jasso drove a 2005 Freightliner semi-tractor pulling a leased semi-trailer while in the scope of his employment for A&A. At some point, Mr. Jasso stopped his tractor-trailer unit on the right shoulder of eastbound Interstate 80 near mile marker 124 in Will County, Illinois. When Mr. Jasso decided to pull back onto the right lane of Interstate 80, he did so directly in front of Mr. Meyer, who was operating a 2007 Freightliner truck tractor. Mr. Meyer sustained serious injuries, including a closed-head injury, fractured right tibia, multiple scalp lacerations, low back pain, and other physical injuries.

The Meyers allege that Robinson was in a joint venture with A&A to haul warehouse goods from a warehouse in Laredo, Texas to Elk Grove Village, Illinois. When the accident occurred, Mr. Jasso agreed with A&A and Robinson to transport trucks and truck parts from Illinois to Arizona. Robinson paid for this transportation, including allowances for fuel costs. Robinson was listed as the motor carrier on the bill of lading, and the bill of lading dictated the pick-up and delivery time of the goods that Mr. Jasso transported. The bill of lading ordered Mr. Jasso to contact Robinson if there were any problems with the shipment.

The amended complaint lists three causes of action against A&A. Count I alleges that A&A was negligent in its hiring, training, retention, and supervision of Jasso. Count II alleges that A&A is liable for spoliation of evidence related to this case. Count IV alleges that A&A is liable for Mr. Jasso's negligent acts under a theory of respondeat superior. A&A moves to dismiss the first two counts of the amended complaint.

The amended complaint lists one cause of action against the Robinson entities. Count V alleges that Robinson engaged in a joint venture with A&A, thus Robinson is vicariously liable for Mr. Jasso's actions. The Robinson entities move to strike Count V of the amended complaint.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss

To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim satisfies this pleading standard when its factual allegations "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56; see also Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010) ("[P]laintiff must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together."). For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the court takes all facts alleged by the claimant as true and draws all reasonable inferences from those facts in the claimant's favor, although conclusory allegations that merely recite the elements of a claim are not entitled to this presumption of truth. Virnich v. Vorwald, 664 F.3d 206, 212 (7th Cir. 2011).

B. Motion to Quash

The federal rules permit liberal discovery in an effort to facilitate the trial or settlement of legal disputes. Bond v. Utreras, 585 F.3d 1061, 1075 (7th Cir. 2009). "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a court to quash or modify a subpoena if it: (1) fails to allow a reasonable time for compliance; (2) "requires a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to travel more than 100 miles"; (3) "requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies"; or (4) "subjects a person to undue burden." Fed.R.Civ.P. 45(c)(3)(A)(i)-(iv). A party moving to quash bears the burden of demonstrating that the subpoena falls within one of these categories. To evaluate whether a subpoena imposes an undue burden, the court asks whether "the burden of ...


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