United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION ORDER
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Doc. 8). In the Motion,
Defendants contend that Plaintiff's claims for (1)
negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention and (2)
negligence against Defendant Titan Transfer, Inc. fail to
comply with federal pleading standards under Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a). For the following reasons, the Court finds that
Defendants' Motion is well-taken. Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS the Motion.
December 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in New Mexico
State District Court against Defendants. Doc. 1-1. Defendants
subsequently removed the action to federal district court on
the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Doc. 1. Plaintiff's
claims arise from an alleged vehicle accident that occurred
on August 1, 2015. Doc. 1-1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
David Pelamati ran a red light and crashed into her vehicle.
addition to bringing claims against Pelamati for negligence,
Plaintiff claims that Pelamati's employer, Defendant
Titan Transfer, Inc. was “negligent in hiring,
contracting of, training, supervision and retention of
Defendant Pelamati.” Doc. 1-1. Plaintiff alleges that
Titan Transfer's negligence includes, but is not limited
to, (1) inadequate screening of Pelamati as a prospective
employee or independent contractor; (2) inadequate
management, training, and enforcement of policies regarding
vehicle operation and maintenance; (3) placement or retention
of Pelamati as a vehicle or tractor-trailer operator, and (4)
inadequate supervision of Pelamati. Doc. 1-1. Plaintiff
further claims that Titan Transfer was negligent because it
“owned or leased or otherwise had a possessory interest
in the vehicle driven by Pelamati.” Doc. 1-1. Plaintiff
alleges that as the owner or lessor, Titan Transfer
“owed a duty of ordinary care and/or pursuant to local,
state or federal law, to maintain and ensure the careful
operation of the vehicle.” Doc. 1-1. After removal,
Defendant filed the present Motion contending that Plaintiff
failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for
negligent hiring, training, supervising and retention or
negligence against Titan Transfer.
12(b)(6) request to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted requires the Court to test the
legal sufficiency of a party's claim for relief.
“[I]f, viewing the well-pleaded factual allegations in
the complaint as true and in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, the complaint does not contain
‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face, '” dismissal is proper.
MacArthur v. San Juan Cnty., 497 F.3d 1057, 1064
(10th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
plaintiff's factual allegations against a defendant
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” See Christy Sports, LLC. v.
Deer Valley Resort Co., 555 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir.
2009) (citation omitted). Stated differently, a plaintiff
must provide sufficient allegations to “nudge [his]
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678.
Rule 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief”, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93
(2007), the federal pleading duty is not trivial. Rule 8
pleading requirements “do not unlock the doors of
discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than
conclusions.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-89. In
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court disregards
conclusory statements of law and considers if the remaining
factual allegations plausibly suggest the defendant is
liable. Kan. Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d
1210, 1214 (10 Cir. 2011).
the Tenth Circuit has concluded that the
Twombly/Iqbal standard is “a middle
ground between heightened fact pleading, which is expressly
rejected, and allowing complaints that are no more than
labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action, which the Court stated will
not do.” Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d
1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012) (citation omitted). Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief
“is context specific, requiring the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citation omitted).
contend that Plaintiff's claims against Titan Transfer
for (1) negligence and (2) negligent hiring,
monitoring/supervising, training and retention must be
dismissed for failure to state a claim. Doc. 8 at 5, 7. The
Court will address these contentions in turn.
Plaintiff's Claim for Negligence Against Titan
support of her claim for negligence against Titan Transfer,
Plaintiff alleges that Titan Transfer, as owner of the
vehicle, “owed a duty of ordinary care and/or pursuant
to local, state or federal law, to maintain and ensure the
careful operation of the vehicle.” Doc. 1-1 at ¶
36. Plaintiff alleges that “Defendant breached its duty
of ordinary care and/or its duty pursuant to local, state, or
federal law.” Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 37. Plaintiff alleges
that as “a proximate result of Defendant's
Titan's negligence in its obligations of ownership,
possessor interest, and maintenance, Plaintiff suffered the
above described damages.” Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 38.
Defendants contend that these allegations are insufficient
because other than alleging that Titan Transfer owned or
leased the vehicle driven by Pelamati, Plaintiff fails to
identify specifically how Titan Transfer breached an alleged
duty of care or how Plaintiff suffered damages as a result of
Defendant Titan's alleged breach. Doc. 8 at 7-8. The
Court agrees with Defendant.
a negligence claim requires the existence of a duty from a
defendant to a plaintiff, breach of that duty, which is
typically based upon a standard of reasonable care, and the
breach being a proximate cause and cause in fact of the
plaintiff's damages.” Herrera v. Quality
Pontiac,2003-NMSC-018, ¶ 6, 73 P.3d 181. As noted
above, in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court disregards
conclusory statements of law and considers if the remaining
factual allegations plausibly suggest that the defendant is
liable. Kan. Penn Gaming, LLC, 656 F.3d at 1214.
Plaintiff's allegations do no more than state vague and
conclusory statements of law. Indeed, the only relevant
factual allegations underlying Plaintiff's claim of
negligence on the part of Titan Transfer is that it owned or
had a possessory interest in a vehicle that was involved in
an accident. Plaintiff makes no factual allegations that
would allow the Court to infer that the vehicle involved in
the crash was negligently maintained or that Titan Transfer
failed to ensure its careful operation. Further, Plaintiff
does not provide any specificity as to what duties Titan