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McNutt v. R&S Metals LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 14, 2020

STEPHEN MCNUTT, Administrator of the Estate of Ronald D. McNutt, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
R&S METALS LLC, Defendant/Crossclaim Defendant, and AECOM ENERGY & CONSTRUCTION, INC.; ALBERICI CONSTRUCTORS, INC. and WASHINGTON GROUP-ALBERICI JOINT VENTURE, Defendants/Crossclaim Plaintiffs/Third-Party Plaintiffs,
v.
JAMES R. LANGSTON TRUCKING and RIVER METALS RECYCLING, LLC, Third-Party Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on a variety of motions to dismiss third-party claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Before getting to the substance of the motions, the Court reviews the genesis of this case.

         I. Background

         This case arose from an accident that occurred in connection with hauling scrap metal from a construction project. There is no indication any party disagrees with the basic facts set forth here.

         Aecom Energy & Construction, Inc. (“Aecom”) and Alberici Constructors, Inc. (“Alberici”) combined for a joint venture, Washington Group-Alberici Joint Venture (“WGAJV”), to perform construction work on the Olmsted Dam in Olmsted, Illinois. WGAJV farmed out the job of removing scrap metal from the worksite to R&S Metals LLC, doing business as Southern Metal Processing (“Southern Metal”), which then itself contracted with River Metals Recycling LLC (“River Metals”) to haul the material away. In turn, River Metals hired James R. Langston Trucking (“Langston Trucking”) to do the heavy lifting-actually moving the scrap metal from the dam worksite to the River Metals facility. The plaintiff's decedent, Ronald D. McNutt, was a Langston Trucking employee.

         On March 19, 2018, McNutt transported a load of scrap metal pipes on a flatbed trailer from the dam worksite to the River Metals facility. While McNutt was unloading the scrap metal at River Metals, the pipes rolled off the trailer and crushed him. He did not survive.

         McNutt's estate sued Aecom, Alberici, WGAJV, and Southern Metal in wrongful death and survival actions. In turn, Aecom, Alberici, and WGAJV (collectively, the “JV Defendants”) brought third-party claims against Langston Trucking, Southern Metal, [1] and River Metals for contribution and implied indemnity. They also sued Southern Metal for breach of contract and express indemnity.

         The motions to dismiss addressed in this order concern only the third-party claims:

• Southern Metal's motion to dismiss the third-party claims for breach of contract (Count VI), express indemnity (Count VII), and implied indemnity (Count VIII) (Doc. 46). The JV Defendants have responded to the motion (Doc. 56);
• River Metals's motion to dismiss the third-party claims for contribution (Count III) and implied indemnity (Count IV) (Doc. 51). The JV Defendants have responded to the motion (Doc. 55); and
• Langston Trucking's motion to dismiss the third-party claims for implied indemnity (Count II) (Doc. 57). The JV Defendants have responded to the motion (Doc. 64), and Langston Trucking has replied to that response (Doc. 71).

         The third-party defendants raise some common issues, which the Court will address first before turning to issues unique to Southern Metal.

         II. Analysis

         All of the third-party defendants ask the Court to dismiss various claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all allegations in the complaint. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This requirement is satisfied if the complaint (1) describes the claim in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests and (2) plausibly suggests that the plaintiff has a right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555; see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); EEOC v. Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 556). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         In Bell Atlantic, the Supreme Court rejected the more expansive interpretation of Rule 8(a)(2) that “a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief, ” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 561-63; Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777. Now “it is not enough for a complaint to avoid foreclosing possible bases for relief; it must actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief . . . by providing allegations that ‘raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'” Concentra Health Servs., 496 F.3d at 777 (quoting Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555).

         Nevertheless, Bell Atlantic did not do away with the liberal federal notice pleading standard. Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007). A complaint still need not contain detailed factual allegations, Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555, and it remains true that “[a]ny district judge (for that matter, any defendant) tempted to write ‘this complaint is deficient because it does not contain . . .' should stop and think: What rule of law requires a complaint to contain that allegation?” Doe v. Smith, 429 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2005) (emphasis in original). Nevertheless, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl., 550 U.S. at 555. If the factual detail of a complaint is “so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which the defendant is entitled under Rule 8, ” it is subject to dismissal. Airborne Beepers, 499 F.3d at 667.

         A. Failure to Plead ...


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