United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
MYERSCOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) or, Alternatively, to Transfer Venue Pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1412 (d/e 12). For the following reasons,
Defendant's Motion is DENIED IN PART and GRANTED IN PART.
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED. Defendant's
Motion to Transfer Venue is GRANTED.
August 11, 2016, Plaintiff Shelley Goodall filed the
Complaint in this case (d/e 1) against Defendant FCA U.S.
for personal injury. On October 11, 2016, Defendant filed a
Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) or,
Alternatively, to Transfer Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1412 (d/e ) (hereinafter Motion to Dismiss or Transfer).
Defendant moves to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiffs claim is
barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Defendant
alternatively seeks to transfer this matter to the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York,
for referral to the Bankruptcy Court in that District. On
October 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed a document that the Court
considers to be Plaintiffs Response to the Motion to Dismiss
or Transfer. (d/e ). On November 14, 2016 (d/e ), and
December 27, 2016 (d/e ), Plaintiff made filings with
supplemental exhibits. The Court presumes that these filings
amend Plaintiffs Response to the Motion to Dismiss or
Transfer, as both seem to reference the Motion to Dismiss or
Transfer. (d/e  (stating it is “responding to the
defendants [sic] response and their plea for a dismissal . .
. .”)) (d/e  (filing supplemental information on
talc powder, which Defendant stated was in the airbag in its
Motion to Dismiss or Transfer)). On March 23, 2017, Defendant
filed, with leave of this Court, its Reply to Plaintiffs
Response (d/e ). On April 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed what
the Court considers to be a surreply to Defendant's Reply
(d/e ). Although Plaintiff did not seek leave of the
Court to file her surreply as required, the Court ALLOWS
following information is taken from the allegations in and
the exhibits attached to the Complaint, which the Court must
accept as true when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Tamayo
v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).
January 1, 2009, Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle
accident in which the side of her vehicle was struck by
another vehicle. A letter from Chrysler to Plaintiff attached to
the Complaint indicates that Plaintiffs vehicle involved in
the accident was a 1996 Chrysler Sebring. Plaintiffs airbag
tore open and sprayed her with chemicals, which caused burns
on her face, neck, chest, and scalp, damage to her airways,
glaucoma in both eyes, spots on the left side of her brain
which caused a “mini stroke, ” blood pressure
problems, rashing, and scarring.
requested Defendant to provide her with “the MSDS
sheet, ” which is seemingly a reference to a Material
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the airbag at issue. Plaintiff
received an MSDS for the Mopar Airbag Inflator Module
Assy-Driver Air Bag (Mar. 29, 2005) in 2016. See
Third Attachment to the Complaint (d/e ) at 10.
claims that if she had the MSDS at the time of the accident,
the doctors treating her injuries may have been able to
provide better care.
seeks compensatory damages for bodily harm, emotional harm,
pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of enjoyment of
life, and property damage. Plaintiff also seeks punitive
Court has subject matter jurisdiction based on the diversity
of the parties and because the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Plaintiff
is a citizen of Illinois, while Defendant is a citizen of
Michigan. See Compl. at 1. In addition, the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000 exclusive of interest and
costs because the Plaintiff seeks $1, 000, 000, 000 in
compensatory damages. Compl. at 7.
MOTION TO DISMISS
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court
construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, accepting all well-pleaded allegations as true and
construing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor.
Tamayo, 526 F.3d at 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). However,
the complaint must set forth facts that plausibly demonstrate
a claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (“To survive a motion to dismiss, a
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.”). Plausibility means alleging factual content
that allows the court to reasonably infer that the defendant
is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id.
addressing a motion to dismiss may consider certain documents
in addition to the complaint. First, the court may consider
any exhibits attached to the Complaint. See Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 10(c) (“A copy of a written instrument that
is an exhibit to a pleading is a part of the pleading for all
purposes.”); Moranski v. General Motors Corp.,
433 F.3d 537, 539 (7th Cir. 2005) (“Any written
instrument attached to the complaint is considered part of
the complaint.”); Beam v. IPCO Corp., 838 F.2d
242, 244 (7th Cir. 1988) (exhibits attached to the complaint
are incorporated into the pleading for purpose of Rule 12(b)
the court may consider the plaintiff's response to a
motion to dismiss and other statements and materials that are
referenced in the complaint and that are essential to the
plaintiff's claims. Heng v. Heavner, Beyers &
Mihlar, LLC, 849 F.3d 348, 353-54 (7th Cir. 2017)
(finding that a court may, when ruling on a motion to
dismiss, consider materials or elaborations in a
plaintiff's trial brief or response to a motion to
dismiss consistent with the pleadings); Gutierrez v.
Peters, 111 F.3d 1364, 1367 n.1 (7th Cir. 1997) (finding
that a court may consider facts submitted in a pro se
plaintiff's brief opposing a motion to dismiss when the
facts are consistent with the allegations in the complaint).
A plaintiff opposing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
“may submit materials outside the pleadings to
illustrate the facts the party expects to be able to
prove.” Geinosky v. City of Chi., 675 F.3d
743, 745 n.1 (7th Cir. 2012).
the court may consider information that is subject to
judicial notice. Ennenga v. Starns, 677 F.3d 766,
773-74 (7th Cir. 2012) (a court may take judicial notice of
matters within the public record that are not subject to
reasonable dispute without converting a pending motion into a
motion for summary judgment.
deciding on the Motion to Dismiss or Transfer, the Court will
consider the exhibits to the Complaint-the two letters from
Chrysler to Plaintiff and the MSDS. The Court will also
consider Plaintiff's statements in her Response to the
Motion to Dismiss or Transfer that are consistent with the
Court will not consider Plaintiff's numerous other
filings and their exhibits (d/e  and ). Plaintiff
attached to d/e  numerous articles and scientific
resources on sodium azide, potassium nitrate, and the dangers
of airbag chemicals to human health. Plaintiff also attached
a customer service summary for a leather cleaner service, and
a workers compensation accident report. None of these
materials are referenced in the Complaint, nor are they
essential to Plaintiffs claims. The Court accordingly will
not consider these documents. Plaintiff also attached several
photographs of what the Court presumes to be the vehicle at
issue and Plaintiff after the accident. While the accident
and the ensuing harm to Plaintiff are the subject of the
Complaint, the photographs are extraneous to Plaintiffs
claims. The Court will not consider them at this stage.
also attached various medical records and the accident report
to d/e . The accident report contains facts that
Plaintiff will need to prove in order to prevail on her
claims. The medical records substantiate Plaintiffs
descriptions of her injuries and her prayers for damages. The
Court will accordingly consider the accident report and the
medical records attached to d/e .
The present action is governed by the Illinois statute of
limitations for personal injury claims.
the Complaint does not state the particular cause of action
under which Plaintiff asserts Defendant's liability,
Plaintiff claims that Defendant is liable to her for the
personal injuries she sustained from chemicals that sprayed
onto her from her airbag. The Court must therefore apply
state law regarding the statute of limitations for personal
injury claims, including corresponding tolling rules.
Jenkins v. Village of Maywood, 506 F.3d 622, 623-24
(7th Cir. 2007) (“Because no federal statute of
limitations governs, federal courts routinely measure the
timeliness of federal civil rights suits by state law. . . .
Federal courts using state limitations periods thus apply the
state's coordinate tolling rules as well.”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore,
Plaintiff's claims are limited by Illinois' two-year
statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
See 735 ILCS § 5/13-202 (2016) (“Actions
for damages for an injury to the person . . . shall be
commenced within 2 years next after the cause of action
accrued . . . .”).
Complaint alleges Defendant is liable for injuries Plaintiff
sustained from a motor vehicle accident that occurred on
January 1, 2009. The Complaint, filed on August 11, 2016, was
therefore filed approximately seven-and-a-half years after
the accident. The expiration of the applicable statute of
limitations is an affirmative defense. Chi. Bldg. Design,
P.C. v. Mongolian House, Inc., 770 F.3d 610, 613 (7th
Cir. 2014). Although a plaintiff is not required to plead
facts in the complaint to anticipate and defeat affirmative
defenses, dismissal is appropriate where the complaint sets
out sufficient facts to establish the statute of limitations
affirmative defense. United States v. Lewis, 411
F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005) (Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal
appropriate where complaint “plainly reveals that an
action is untimely under the governing statute of
limitations.”); see also Brooks v. Ross, 578
F.3d 574, 579 (7th Cir. 2009) (several of plaintiffs claims
were properly dismissed at 12(b)(6) stage as time-barred by
the statute of limitations because the relevant dates were
set forth unambiguously in the complaint).
the Complaint establishes that it was filed five-and-a-half
years after the two-year anniversary of the accident giving
rise to this case, dismissal is appropriate unless a tolling
doctrine applies. Indep. Trust Corp. v. Stewart Info.
Servs. Corp., 665 F.3d 930, 935 (7th Cir. 2012) (when
ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss based on the statute
of limitations defense, the court shall consider ...