Mullins v. Allied Waste Servs. of N. Am., Civil Action 3:20-0735

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
PartiesANTHONY GEORGE MULLINS, Plaintiff, v. ALLIED WASTE SERVICES OF NORTH AMERICA LLC, d/b/a Republic Services of West Virginia, and DANE R. MILLER, general manager, Defendants.
Decision Date30 September 2021
Docket NumberCivil Action 3:20-0735


ALLIED WASTE SERVICES OF NORTH AMERICA LLC, d/b/a Republic Services of West Virginia, and DANE R. MILLER, general manager, Defendants.

Civil Action No. 3:20-0735

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

September 30, 2021



Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 5. For the reasons stated herein, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


This case arises from a motor vehicle accident occurring on September 19, 2018, in Kenova, Wayne County, West Virginia. Plaintiff Anthony George Mullin was employed by Defendant Allied Waste Services of North America, LLC, d/b/a Republic Services of West Virginia (“AWS”). Defendant Dane R. Miller was the general manager of the Huntington division of AWS. Plaintiff was operating a garbage truck, along with his co-worker, when the garbage truck's brakes failed, causing the vehicle to crash and overturn as Plaintiff attempted a left turn from Ridgelawn Road onto W.Va. State Route 75. Because of AWS's conceded failure to repair and maintain the brakes on the truck Plaintiff was required to operate, the truck struck a bridge and rolled over, causing both passengers serious personal injuries. Plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim for these injuries. Plaintiff also filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of


Wayne County, West Virginia, against both AWS and Mr. Miller (collectively “Defendants”), asserting claims of deliberate intent and negligence. Plaintiff included an affidavit from a proposed expert who alleged that the specific unsafe working conditions violated 49 C.F.R. § 396.3(a), 49 C.F.R. § 396.3(a)(1), and 49 C.F.R. § 396.7(a). The case was removed to this Court.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss and Accompanying Memorandum of Law alleging that Plaintiff's negligence claims were barred by West Virginia's workers' compensation scheme and that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim alleging deliberate intent which would allow Plaintiff to circumvent the immunity afforded to West Virginia employers. ECF Nos. 5, 6. Plaintiff's response stated that his complaint alleged sufficient facts to satisfy the requirements of West Virginia's notice pleading system and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2). ECF No. 11. Defendants reply noted that Plaintiff failed to address how his negligence claims could survive a motion to dismiss and that his deliberate intent claim continued to be insufficient. ECF No. 12.


In Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court disavowed the “no set of facts” language found in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), which was long used to evaluate complaints subject to 12(b)(6) motions. 550 U.S. at 563. In its place, courts must now look for “plausibility” in the complaint. This standard requires a plaintiff to set forth the “grounds” for an “entitle[ment] to relief” that is more than mere “labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Accepting the factual allegations in the complaint as true (even when doubtful), the allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . . .” Id. (citations omitted). If the allegations in the complaint, assuming their truth, do “not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, this basic deficiency should . . . be exposed at


the point of minimum expenditure of time and money by the parties and the court.” Id. at 558 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court explained the requirements of Rule 8 and the “plausibility standard” in more detail. In Iqbal, the Supreme Court reiterated that Rule 8 does not demand “detailed factual allegations[.]” 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, a mere “unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation” is insufficient. Id. “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.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Facial plausibility exists when a claim contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citation omitted). The Supreme Court continued by explaining that, although factual allegations in a complaint must be accepted as true for purposes of a motion to dismiss, this tenet does not apply to legal conclusions. Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. (citation omitted). Whether a plausible claim is stated in a complaint requires a court to conduct a context-specific analysis, drawing upon the...

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