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Putini v. Blair Corp.

May 3, 2010

MICHELLE PUTINI, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST TO AND ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATES OF EVELYN AND MURRAY ROGOFF, DECEASED; AND SUSAN BRENT, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST TO EVELYN AND MURRAY ROGOFF, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BLAIR CORPORATION, BLAIR L.L.C., GOLDEN GATE CAPITAL, AND ORCHARD BRANDS CORPORATION, AND DOES 1 TO 100, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN-PART AND DENYING IN-PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. 21)

Pending before the Court is Defendants Blair Corporation, Blair L.L.C., Golden Gate Capital, and Orchard Brands Corporation's ("Defendants") motion to dismiss. (Doc. 21.) Plaintiffs Michelle Putini and Susan Brent ("Plaintiffs") oppose.

The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d.1). For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS IN-PART and DENIES IN-PART Defendants' motion (Doc. 21).

I. BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, Plaintiffs' mother, Evelyn Rogoff, purchased a Blair robe on or about December 2008, in response to a catalog solicitation. (First Amended Compl. ("FAC") [Doc 1, Ex. 2] at 5, ¶ 2.) On February 4, 2009, Ms. Rogoff was wearing the robe while making tea in her kitchen. (Id., ¶ 3.) The Blair robe ignited when it was exposed to the surface of the electric burner Ms. Rogoff was using to heat the tea pot. (Id.) The fire traveled up the arm of the Blair robe and quickly spread to Ms. Rogoff's neck, face, and chest. (Id.) Ms. Rogoff's husband, Murray Rogoff, threw himself onto her to smother the fire and his robe also caught fire. (Id.)

Plaintiff Susan Brent entered her parent's home, heard their screams, and saw them on fire on the floor. (FAC at 2, ¶ 4.) She grabbed nearby water bottles and doused the flames, then transported her parents to the hospital. (Id.) Both Mr. and Ms. Rogoff died as a result of their injuries. (Id. at 6, ¶ 4.)

Plaintiffs filed this action on October 23, 2009, alleging two claims: products liability and violation of a statute. (Compl. [Doc 1, Ex. 1].) On January 15, 2010, Defendants filed the instant motion to dismiss, seeking to dismiss Plaintiffs' second claim, as well as their request for punitive damages. (MTD [Doc. 21].)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the complaint's sufficiency. See North Star Int'l. v. Arizona Corp. Comm'n., 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). The Court must dismiss a cause of action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory, or (2) insufficient facts under a cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).

In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, all material allegations in the complaint, "even if doubtful in fact," are assumed to be true. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Additionally, the complaint and all reasonable inferences therefrom are construed in the plaintiff's favor. Walleri v. Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle, 83 F.3d 1575, 1580 (9th Cir. 1996). Nevertheless, conclusory legal allegations and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss. Ove v. Gwinn, 264 F.3d 817, 821 (9th Cir. 2001).

"While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, [citation omitted], 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 [citation omitted]." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rather, the allegations in the complaint "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiffs' First Cause of Action for Violation of a Statute

Defendants seek to dismiss Plaintiffs' second cause of action for "Violation of a Statute" under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), which provides that a court may dismiss a claim for "lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter[.]" FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1). Defendants argue that because the Federal Flammable Fabrics Act ...


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