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Zapata v. Lyft, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

July 27, 2018

LYFT, INC., Defendant.



         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on “Defendant's Motion To Dismiss” (Document No. 7). This motion has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b), and is now ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the arguments, the record, and the applicable authority, the undersigned will direct that the motion be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff Manuel Garcia Zapata (“Plaintiff” or “Zapata”) initiated this action with the filing of a form “Complaint” (Document No. 1-1, pp. 2-4) in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on November 22, 2017. The Complaint identifies Lyft Transportation Network Company as Defendant. (Document No. 1-1, p. 2). Plaintiff alleges wrongful acts by Defendant including: “Defamation of character;” “Unfairly Trained by the Company, Correspondence made Public” and “the claim against me affects my integrity and my political asylum.” Id. The Complaint seeks an award of $200, 000.00. (Document No. 1-1, p. 3).

         Defendant Lyft, Inc. (“Lyft” or “Defendant”) filed a “Notice Of Removal” (Document No. 1) with this Court on January 4, 2018. Lyft contends that removal is appropriate based on diversity jurisdiction. (Document No. 1, p. 2). Lyft also notes that it has been incorrectly named in the Complaint. (Document No. 1, p. 1).

         On January 31, 2018, Lyft filed the pending “Defendant's Motion To Dismiss” (Document No. 7) and a “…Memorandum in Support…” (Document No. 8). Lyft seeks dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2), (4), (5), and (6). In short, Defendant contends that the Complaint has never been properly served, and that it is completely devoid of any factual content supporting the alleged claims. Id.

         Plaintiff failed to file a timely response to the motion to dismiss; however, the Court issued an “Order” (Document No. 7) pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison on March 8, 2018, and advised Plaintiff that he had a right to respond to the motion to dismiss and that failure to respond would likely lead to dismissal of his lawsuit. Plaintiff's deadline to respond was re-set to March 23, 2018. (Document No. 9). On March 22, 2018, Plaintiff timely requested an extension of time. (Document No. 10). The deadline to respond to the motion to dismiss was then re-set to April 6, 2018. (Document No. 11).

         On April 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a document captioned as a “Complaint, ” which asserted in the first line that “It is by respond of “Defendant's Motion to Dis[mi]ss”, (Document No.7).” (Document No. 12). The Clerk's Office has construed this filing as a response to the motion to dismiss; however, the undersigned is inclined to find that Plaintiff intended to file an Amended Complaint. See (Document No. 12). Plaintiff's second “Complaint” is remarkably similar to the original Complaint (Document No. 1-1, pp. 2-4) and seems to assert a new claim for “psychological damage.” (Document No. 12, p. 2). In addition, Plaintiff has revised, but reduced, his demand for damages - to $75, 000.00. (Document No. 12, p. 3).

         In reply, Defendant notes that Plaintiff's response “wholly fails to address any arguments, both procedural and substantive, made in support of Lyft's Motion to Dismiss.” (Document No. 14, p. 1) (citing Document Nos. 8 and 12). Defendant goes on to assert that if the Court considers Plaintiff's filing to be an Amended Complaint, it does not adequately address the deficiencies Defendant has already identified - it still has not been properly served and still does not include any factual support. (Document No. 14, pp. 1-2). Defendant concludes that the amendment is futile, and therefore, dismissal is required. (Document No. 14, p. 2).


         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the “legal sufficiency of the complaint” but “does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992); Eastern Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D. Assoc. Ltd. Partnership, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss will survive if it contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also, Robinson v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 551 F.3d 218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009). “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. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id.

         The Supreme Court has also opined that

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” In addition, when ruling on a defendant's motion to ...

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