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Gaston v. PBI Gordon Corporation

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

August 20, 2014

ANDRE GASTON, Plaintiff,
v.
PBI GORDON CORPORATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM L. OSTEEN, Jr., District Judge.

Presently before the court is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by Defendant PBI Gordon Corporation ("Defendant"). (Doc. 7.) Plaintiff Andre Gaston ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, has responded in opposition (Doc. 12), and Defendant has replied (Doc. 13). This motion is now ripe for adjudication, and, for the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken as alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint:

Plaintiff is a citizen domiciled in the State of Washington. (Complaint ("Compl.") (Doc. 2) ¶ 9.) Defendant is a Kansas or Missouri corporation that designed and manufactured a weed-killing herbicide product called "Pronto Big N' Tuf." (Id. ¶ 10.)

At the time of the incident, Plaintiff, a 42-year-old man living in Salisbury, North Carolina, worked as the "COO" for Carolina Health & Day Services, LLC, a for-profit business serving disabled and elderly clients. (Id. ¶ 15.) On or about August 2, 2011, Plaintiff used Defendant's Pronto Big N' Tuf herbicide in a pump sprayer[1] to treat the lawn at the Carolina Health & Day Services facility where he worked. (Id. ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff's Complaint contains a number of conclusory allegations with respect to research, data, and other general matters relating to herbicides. Plaintiff's specific allegations as to the circumstances of the transaction at issue in this case are limited. Plaintiff alleges that he filled the plastic compartment of the pump sprayer with Defendant's Pronto Big N' Tuf and "pumped the container to have the herbicide dispersed through the wand." (Id. ¶¶ 16-17.) The pressure built by the pumping of the handle caused the sprayer to rupture, "spewing the liquid herbicide all over plaintiff's person, vehicle, front porch of the residential facility, living room floor, dining room floor and carpet, clothing and other items." (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff alleges that, "as a result of Defendant's negligence, " he suffered physical injury and the facility where he worked suffered substantial damage and economic loss. (Id. ¶ 21.) The pump sprayer Plaintiff used was manufactured by a nonparty to the suit. (Id. ¶ 18.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

When deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), "a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). All "[p]leadings must be construed so as to do justice, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e), and the complaint "need only give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson , 551 U.S. at 93 (internal quotations omitted). However, to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must allege "sufficient factual matter... to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). In order for a claim to be facially plausible, a plaintiff must "plead[] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable" and must demonstrate "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id . (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556).

When faced with a pro se plaintiff, the pleading is "to be liberally construed, " and the "pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson , 551 U.S. at 94 (quoting Estelle v. Gamble , 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). While pro se complaints "represent the work of an untutored hand requiring special judicial solicitude, " Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. , 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Beaudett v. City of Hampton , 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir. 1985)), such pro se status does not "transform the court into an advocate" on behalf of the plaintiff. Id.

III. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff asserts six causes of action: (1) negligence, (2) negligent misrepresentation, (3) fraud, (4) strict tort liability (manufacturing defect), (5) strict tort liability (failure to warn), and (6) breach of implied warranty. (See Compl. (Doc. 2) at 5-12.)

A. FIFRA Preemption

Plaintiff alleges several causes of action arising out of Defendant's alleged failure to properly warn consumers of the ...


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