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Eckhoff v. Wal-Mart Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, Second Circuit

December 30, 2013

GLENN ECKHOFF, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART ASSOCIATES, INC., WAL-MART ASSOCIATES EAST, INC., WAL-MART ASSOCIATES EAST, LP., and WAL-MART STORES, INC., Defendants. WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL FREIGHT, INC., Third-Party Defendant.

Patricia A. O'Connor, Brody, O'Connor & O'Connor, Esqs., Northport, New York, Counsel for Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff.

Glenn A. Jacobson, Abrams, Gorelick, Friedman & Jacobson, LLP, New York, New York, Counsel for Third-Party Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

CATHY SEIBEL, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Motion of Third-Party Defendant National Freight, Inc. ("NFI") to Dismiss the Third-Party Complaint of Third-Party Plaintiff Wal-Mart Stores East, LP ("WMSE") pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 14(a). (Doc. 18.) For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.

I. Background

The factual allegations contained in the Third-Party Plaintiff's Complaint ("TPC") are accepted as true for the purposes of this Motion and are construed in the light most favorable to the Third-Party Plaintiff.

In the underlying case, Plaintiff Glenn Eckhoff, an NFI truck driver, filed a Complaint against WMSE and other related entities alleging that Plaintiff sustained personal injuries as a result of Wal-Mart employees' negligence. (Compl. ¶¶ 54-56.)[1] Specifically, Mr. Eckhoff alleges that while he was delivering merchandise to a store, Wal-Mart employees negligently unloaded the truck, causing Mr. Eckhoff to be injured when he was struck by the merchandise. ( Id. )

WMSE alleges that prior to the incident alleged in the Complaint, NFI entered into a transportation agreement ("Transportation Agreement") pursuant to which it transported and delivered goods to Wal-Mart stores.[2] (TPC ¶ 6.) WMSE alleges that the Transportation Agreement provided among other things that: (1) NFI shall carry commercial general liability insurance with contractual liability coverage, ( id. ¶ 7); (2) WMSE shall be named as an additional insured on NFI's commercial general liability insurance policy, ( id. ¶ 8); (3) NFI shall indemnify WMSE against and from any lawsuits arising from services provided under the agreement, including claims for personal injury asserted against WMSE by NFI's agents or employees, ( id. ¶ 9); and (4) NFI shall indemnify WMSE for any claim by any NFI employee for injuries sustained in the ordinary course of business, ( id. ¶ 10).

WMSE now brings claims against NFI seeking indemnification pursuant to the Transportation Agreement should Mr. Eckhoff obtain a judgment, as well as damages for breach of the Transportation Agreement based on NFI's alleged failure to obtain the requisite insurance naming WMSE as an additional insured. ( See id. ¶¶ 12-13, 15-18.)

II. Legal Standards

A. Rule 12(b)(6)

"To survive a motion to dismiss, a 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) (quoting Bell Atl. 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." Id. "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (alteration, citations, and internal quotation marks omitted). While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 "marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, ... it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79.

In considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court "begin[s] by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth, " and then determines whether the remaining well-pleaded factual allegations, accepted as true, "plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 679. Deciding whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is "a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere ...


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