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Favorite v. Sakovski

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

August 16, 2019

Stephanie Favorite, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Guy Favorite, IV, Plaintiff,
v.
Aleksandar Sakovski, deceased, BB Wolf, Inc., and Compass Truck Rental and Leasing, LLC Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Stephanie Favorite brings this action against Aleksandar Sakovski, BB Wolf, Inc., and Compass Truck Rental and Leasing following her husband's death in a tractor-trailer collision on Interstate 39 in McLean County, Illinois. Compass moved to dismiss the claim against it for negligent entrustment. For the following reasons, Compass's motion is denied.

         Legal Standard

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the “sufficiency of the complaint.” Berger v. Nat. Collegiate Athletic Assoc., 843 F.3d 285, 289 (7th Cir. 2016). A complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), sufficient to provide defendant with “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully- harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). While “detailed factual allegations” are not required, “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “‘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.'” Boucher v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay, Inc., 880 F.3d 362, 366 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634, 646 (7th Cir. 2018).

         Background

         In 2018, Guy Favorite IV and Aleksandar Sakovski were driving tractor trailers in opposite directions on Interstate 39 in McClean County, Illinois when Sakovski crossed the median and crashed into Favorite. R. 1 ¶¶ 14-16. Both Favorite and Sakovski died from injuries they sustained in the crash. Id. ¶ 16.

         At the time of the accident, Sakovski was transporting a load of auto parts on behalf of his employer, BB Wolf. Id. ¶¶ 13, 16. The truck Sakovski was driving, a 2016 Freightliner Cascadia, had been leased to BB Wolf by Compass Truck Rental. Id. ¶ 11.

         Stephanie Favorite brings this action against Sakovski, BB Wolf, and Compass for her husband's death.[1] Count VIII of the complaint is against Compass for negligent entrustment. Favorite alleges that Compass knew or should have known that leasing the truck to BB Wolf presented an unreasonable risk of harm to Favorite and others because BB Wolf had a poor safety record and employed unqualified and inadequately trained commercial truck drivers, including Sakovski. Id. ¶ 40. Compass moved to dismiss Favorite's negligent entrustment claim.

         Analysis

         I. Compass's Late Filing

         Favorite argues that the Court should deny the motion to dismiss because Compass missed the filing deadline. A district court “has the discretion to permit the defendants to file their answer late ‘when the failure to act was the result of excusable neglect.'” Lewis v. School Dist. #70, 523 F.3d 730, 740 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)). The determination of excusable neglect is “at bottom an equitable one, taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party's omission.” Id. (quoting Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assoc. Ltd., 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993)). The factors to consider include “the danger of prejudice, the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay, and whether the movant had acted in good faith.” Id.

         Compass filed its motion to dismiss 12 days after the deadline. At the May status hearing, Compass provided no reasons for its tardiness other than that it was one of the first parties served in the lawsuit. That is not a good reason for delay and weighs against considering its motion. Nevertheless, the delay resulted in minimal impact on the judicial proceedings, and there is no reason to believe that Favorite has been prejudiced or that Compass acted in bad faith. As such, the Court will consider Compass's motion on the merits. See Peoria Tazewell Pathology Grp., SC v. Messmore, 2011 WL 4498937, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 23, 2011) (“[T]o disregard Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in its entirety as a penalty for not filing it before the date the answer was due (six days earlier) would not serve the interests of justice.”).

         II. Merits

         a) ...


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