United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
SHASITY DARSHAL RICHARDSON and JOHNATHAN RICHARDSON, Plaintiffs,
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD., SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC., SAMSUNG C&T AMERICA, INC., SAMSUNG TELECOMMUNICATIONS AMERICA, LLC, and UNITED STATES CELLULAR CORPORATION, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM & RECOMMENDATION
Kimberly A. Swank, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for
judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c) [DE #19]. Plaintiffs have responded [DE #25],
and Defendants have replied [DE #27]. Where this matter has
been referred to the undersigned and the parties have not
consented to the jurisdiction of the magistrate judge,
Defendants' motion is undertaken pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) for a memorandum and recommendation. For
the reasons stated below, it is recommended that
Defendants' motion be granted and Plaintiffs'
complaint be dismissed, in its entirety.
Shasity Darshal Richardson and her husband, Johnathan
Richardson, brought this action for injuries allegedly
sustained by Mrs. Richardson as a result of an exploding
cellular phone manufactured or distributed by Defendants
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America,
Inc., Samsung C&T America, Inc., Samsung
Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively “the Samsung
Defendants”), and United States Cellular Corporation
(“U.S. Cellular”). (Compl. [DE #1] at 3-4.) Mrs.
Richardson entered into a written sales contract for her
“Samsung Galaxy S4” cellular device and cellular
service with Defendant U.S. Cellular. (Id. at 3, 6.)
their complaint, Plaintiffs allege that on February 4, 2014,
Mrs. Richardson was lying on her couch with her cellular
phone beside her and awoke to find her cellular phone, couch,
hair and arm were on fire. (Compl. at 3.) Mr. Richardson
proceeded to extinguish the flames on his wife and couch.
filed their complaint in the Superior Court of Lenoir County,
North Carolina, on February 2, 2018, asserting the following
causes of action against all Defendants: breach of contract
(Compl. at 6-7), breach of express warranty
(id. at 11-12), breach of implied warranty of
merchantability (id. at 12-13), breach of implied
warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (id. at
13-14), and loss of consortium (id. at 14-15).
Plaintiffs also assert claims against the Samsung Defendants
for negligence (id. at 8-9) and products liability
under Chapter 99B of the North Carolina General Statutes
(id. at 9-10). Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages,
punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs.
(Id. at 15-17.)
removed the action to this court [DE #1] and subsequently
filed their motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing
that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the applicable
statutes of limitations. (Defs.' Mot. J. Pleadings [DE
#19].) Plaintiffs have responded, arguing that the
limitations period was tolled under N.C. Gen. Stat. §
35(A)-1101(7) due to Mrs. Richardson's disability of
incompetency (Pls.' Resp. Mem. Defs.' Mot. J.
Pleadings [DE #25].) Defendants filed a reply to
Plaintiffs' response arguing insufficient allegation of
fact regarding Mrs. Richardson's mental incompetency.
(Defs.' Reply Mot. J. Pleadings [DE #27].)
Rule 12(c) Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter
the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay
trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “A motion for judgment on the
pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) is intended to test the
legal sufficiency of the complaint.” Great Divide
Ins. Co. v. Midnight Rodeo, Inc., No. 5:08-CV-204-F,
2010 WL 2077162, at *2 (E.D. N.C. May 24, 2010).
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court
applies the same standard as for motions made pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6). Burbach Broad Co. v. Elkins Radio
Corp., 278 F.3d 401, 406 (4th Cir. 2002). To survive
dismissal, a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570) (internal quotation marks
omitted). A claim is facially plausible if the plaintiff
alleges factual content “that allows the court to draw
the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged” and shows more than “a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. Ordinarily, a complaint need contain simply
“a short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). However, a complaint is insufficient if it offers
merely “labels and conclusions, ” “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action,
” or “naked assertion[s] devoid of further
factual enhancement.” See Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 557 (2007)) (alteration in
original) (internal quotation marks omitted).
when a party moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to
Rule 12(c), the factual allegations of the complaint are
taken as true, whereas those of the answer are taken as true
only to the extent they have not been denied or do not
conflict with those of the complaint. Pledger v. N.C.
Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 7 F.Supp.2d 705,
707 (E.D. N.C. 1998).
North Carolina ...