United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION & ORDER
KIMBA M. WOOD United States District Judge.
O'Grady ("Plaintiff) seeks compensatory and punitive
damages for injuries she sustained in an automobile accident.
The Court GRANTS Defendant FCA's Motion to Dismiss the
portion of Plaintiff s Complaint seeking punitive damages,
because punitive damages are barred by a final order of the
United States Bankruptcy Court.
October 11, 2013, at around 9:00 p.m., a 2002 Grand Cherokee
Laredo Jeep collided with Plaintiffs vehicle. (Complaint
¶ 6, Doc. No. 1-1). Plaintiff was severely injured, and
both vehicles were significantly damaged. Plaintiff, a
resident of Bronx County in New York, filed a lawsuit pro
se on October 11, 2016 in New York Supreme Court,
against FCA U.S. LLC; Roseanne Piccirilli, the Jeep driver;
Nicola Piccirilli, the Jeep owner; and L&S Auto Repair.
Complaint makes four claims against Defendant FCA: (1)
negligence in design and sale, which created an unreasonable
risk of harm; (2) defective design and/or defective
manufacture; (3) failure to warn about the foreseeable
purposes of the vehicles and their components; and (4)
violations of state business laws governing advertisement.
This Opinion addresses FCA's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs
punitive damage claim.
Background and Procedural History
Plaintiff filed this case in New York Supreme Court,
Defendant removed the action to federal court, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1334, 1452(a) and 1441(a),  because
Plaintiffs claims are related to a Bankruptcy Court decision
governing FCA's liability for Chrysler's
manufacturing defects. (See Notice of Removal, Doc.
Corporation manufactured the Jeep involved in Plaintiffs
accident. In 2007, DaimlerChrysler separated into Daimler AG
and Chrysler LLC, and in 2009, Old Carco (which included
Chrysler LLC) filed for bankruptcy in the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. (Mot.
to Dismiss at 3). That same day, Old Carco entered into a
Master Transaction Agreement, in which it agreed to sell
substantially all of its assets, free and clear of all claims
and liabilities, other than those expressly listed, to a new
company that is now known as FCA U.S. LLC. (Id. at
4). The Bankruptcy Court entered an Order authorizing the
Master Transaction Agreement and specifically exempting FCA
from all liabilities, other than those expressly described in
the Master Transaction Agreement. (See Ex. B to MTD
(In re Old Carco LLC at¶ 35, No. 09-50002
(Bankr. S.D.N.Y. June 1, 2009) (Gonzalez, J.))).
November 19, 2009, the Bankruptcy Court approved an amendment
to the Master Transaction Agreement, in which FCA assumed any
product liability claims arising from any Chrysler, Jeep or
Dodge brand vehicles, "solely to the extent such Product
Liability Claims ... do not include any claim for exemplary
or punitive damages." (See Ex. C to MTD (In
re Old Carco LLC at Annex A ¶ 1, No. 09-50002
(Bankr. S.D.N.Y Nov. 19, 2009) (Gonzalez, J.))).
Court accepts as true all of the factual allegations in
Plaintiffs Complaint, while drawing all reasonable inferences
in her favor. See Kaufman v. Time Warner, 836 F.3d
137, 141 (2d Cir. 2016). To survive a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6), 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
Ail. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
"Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Id. Additionally, the Court is
"oblig[ed] to construe pro se complaints
liberally, " interpreting the complaints to raise the
strongest claims it suggests. Hill v. Curcione, 657
F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011); Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).
Plain Language of the Master Transaction Agreement Bars
Punitive Damage Claim
seeks punitive damages against FCA "for reckless
disregard of public safety and [s]uch other and further
relief as this Court deems just and proper, " among
other forms of relief. (Complaint at p. 25). The Bankruptcy
Court's Orders plainly and directly exempt FCA from
punitive damages on product liability claims. (See
Ex. C to MTD, Annex A ¶ 1). Accordingly, Plaintiffs
claim for punitive damages is barred.
argues that the Bankruptcy Court's Orders do not bar her
claims, because the case involves more than simply punitive
damages. (See O'Grady Letter at 2 (Apr. 21,
2017)). However, Defendant's ...