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Volkova v. C.H. Robinson Co.

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

February 7, 2018

NATALIA VOLKOVA, individually and as Trustee of the Estate of Alexandre Volkov, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
C.H. ROBINSON COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Ronald A. Guzmán United States District Judge.

         For the reasons stated below, the Robinson defendants' motion to dismiss certain claims [194] is granted.

         STATEMENT

         The Court assumes general knowledge of the facts of the case, which was filed after the decedent's tractor-trailer crashed into another tractor-trailer, driven by defendant Dung Quoc Nguyen, who was making a U-turn in the middle of the highway. Plaintiff's second amended complaint (“SAC”) alleges in part that Defendants C.H. Robinson Company, Inc. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. (collectively, “Robinson”) negligently hired Antioch Transport, Inc. and its driver, Nguyen.

         According to the SAC, Robinson is a federally-registered property broker, while Antioch is a federally-authorized motor carrier. (SAC, Dkt. # 191, ¶¶ 10, 36.) Robinson selects and contracts with motor carriers (in this instance, Antioch) to haul freight shipments for its customers. (Id. ¶¶ 35-36, 48.) Plaintiff alleges that Robinson is liable for failing to perform sufficient investigation and evaluation in hiring Antioch and Nguyen to transport the load at issue. (Id. ¶¶ 38, 40-43, 176.)

         Robinson contends in the instant motion to dismiss that the negligent hiring claims are preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”).[1]

         Standard

         On a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court assumes all factual allegations in the complaint to be true, viewing all facts and any inferences reasonably drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Parish v. City of Elkhart, 614 F.3d 677, 679 (7th Cir. 2010). The factual allegations in the complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010).

         Analysis

         To succeed on a cause of action regarding the negligent hiring, Plaintiff must show that Robinson negligently hired Antioch and Nguyen when Robinson knew or should have known that they were “unfit for the required contracted job so as to create a danger of harm to other third parties.” Hayward v. C.H. Robinson Co., 24 N.E.3d 48, 55 (Ill.App.Ct. 2014).

         Under the relevant provision of the FAAAA:

a State . . . may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier . . . or any motor private carrier, broker, or freight forwarder with respect to the transportation of property.

49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)(1) (emphasis added). In turn, the term “transportation” includes:

(A) a motor vehicle, vessel, warehouse, wharf, pier, dock, yard, property, facility, instrumentality, or equipment of any kind related to the movement of passengers or property, or both, regardless of ...

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