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Swaringer v. PSA Airlines, Inc.

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

February 13, 2019

PSA AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.


          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant PSA Airlines, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Swaringer v. PSA Airlines, Inc., No. 3:18-cv-00531-FDW-DCK, Doc. No. 6) (hereafter “Swaringer II”) pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) and Local Rule 7.1. Because Plaintiff appears pro se, the Court issued a Roseboro notice, (Swaringer II, Doc. No. 10), informing Plaintiff of the burden she carries in responding to Defendant's Motion. Plaintiff has responded, (Swaringer II, Doc. No. 14), Defendant has replied, (Swaringer II, Doc. No. 17), and this motion is now ripe for review.[1] For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This action arises out injuries Plaintiff alleges she suffered from wearing a work uniform distributed by Defendant to its employees in September of 2016. (Swaringer II, Doc. No. 1-1, p. 2). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the uniforms contained chemicals that caused Plaintiff to suffer from angioedema and anaphylaxis. Id. at 2-3.

         On July 30, 2018, Plaintiff commenced her first action against Defendant in state court. (Swaringer v. PSA Airlines, Inc., No. 3:18-cv-00481-FDW-DCK, Doc. No. 1-1) (hereafter “Swaringer I”). Defendant removed that action to federal court on August 20, 2018. (Swaringer I, Doc. No. 1). On September 6, 2018, Defendant moved for the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. (Swaringer I, Doc. No. 6). Despite the Court's issuance of a Roseboro notice allowing Plaintiff additional time to respond, Plaintiff failed to timely respond or otherwise objected to the motion. See (Swaringer I, Doc. No. 10). Rather, Plaintiff initiated this matter by filing a Complaint in federal court on October 1, 2018. (Swaringer II, Doc. No. 1). On October 24, 2018, this Court issued an Order dismissing Plaintiff's Complaint in Swaringer I. (Swaringer I, Doc. No. 10). Defendant now moves this Court to dismiss this current action under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. (Swaringer II, Doc. No. 6).


         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of claims where the Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the lawsuit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time by a litigant or the court itself. Mansfield, C. & L.M.R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884). “If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         Plaintiff has the burden of proving that subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). When a defendant challenges subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), “the district court is to regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.” Richmond, 945 F.2d at 768. The district court should grant the Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss “only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.” Id.; see also Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999).

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Rule 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move for dismissal when a plaintiff has not stated a claim that is recognized by law. Documents attached as exhibits to the complaint or incorporated by reference in the complaint may be considered when resolving a motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. Zak v. Chelsea Therapeutics Intern. Ltd., 780 F.3d 597, 606 (4th Cir. 2015). An outside document may be considered for a 12(b)(6) ruling if it is integral and explicitly relied on in the complaint and there is no challenge to the document's authenticity.” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 448 (4th Cir. 2011).

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff's “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. 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 complaint is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable.” Id. While a high level of factual detail is not required, a complaint needs more than “an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (citation omitted). “Where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. Id. at 679. On the other hand, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not entitled to a presumption of truth. Id. at 678.

         “Complaints filed by pro se plaintiffs are [generally] construed more liberally than those drafted by an attorney.” Berry v. Gutierrez, 587 F.Supp.2d 717, 722 (E.D. Va. 2008) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972)). Thus, when considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must keep in mind the principle that “a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). Nevertheless, Erickson does not undermine the requirement ...

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