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Fontalvo v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 20, 2014

DOMINIC FONTALVO, a minor, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, NORMA FONTALVO, individually and as successor in interest to Alexis Fontalvo, deceased, Plaintiffs,
v.
SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORPORATION; SIKORSKY SUPPORT SERVICES, INC.; UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION; G.E. AVIATION SYSTEMS, LLC; DU PONT AEROSPACE CO.; E.I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY; PKL SERVICES, INC.; and DOES 1 through 100, Inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER: 1) DENYING DEFENDANT E.I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION [Dkt. No. 41.] 2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT PKL SERVICES INC.'S MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S FIRST THROUGH FOURTH AND SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION [Dkt. No. 42.]

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

Presently before the Court are two separate motions to dismiss portions of Plaintiffs Dominic Fontalvo and Norma Fontalvo's Amended Complaint, filed by Defendants E.I Du Pont De Nemours, (Dkt. No. 41) and PKL Services Inc., (Dkt. No. 42). The Parties have fully briefed both motions. (See Dkt. Nos. 48, 49; Dkt. Nos. 47, 50.) The Court finds the matter suitable for resolution without oral argument pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1). Based on the allegations in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, the Parties' respective briefing, and the applicable law, the Court DENIES Defendant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours' motion to dismiss, (Dkt. No. 41), and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant PKL Services Inc.'s motion to dismiss, (Dkt. No. 42).

BACKGROUND

This action arises from the March 17, 2011 death of United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Alexis Fontalvo ("Decedent") in a helicopter accident. (Dkt. No. 39, Amended Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff Dominic Fontalvo, Decedent's sole child, brings this action by and through his grandmother and Guardian ad Litem, Norma Fontalvo (collectively, "Plaintiffs"). (Id. ¶¶ 3-4.)

Plaintiffs allege the helicopter accident at issue occurred when the "wire path leading to the landing gear was subject to an unplanned and uncommanded energization, which caused the left main landing gear to retract while decedent... was beneath the subject CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter." (Id. ¶ 16.) According to Plaintiffs, the helicopter crushed Decedent's arm, immobilizing him as the weight of the helicopter "came down on his body." (Id.) Decedent sustained "blunt force polytrauma and injuries including but not limited to skull fractures, spinal fractures and separation of [Decedent's] brain stem from his spinal cord, such massive injuries being fatal in nature." (Id.)

On January 25, 2013, Plaintiffs filed this action in California Superior Court. (Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A.) On February 11, 2013, Defendants Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., and United Technologies Corporation removed this action to federal court. (Dkt. No. 1.) After this Court denied Plaintiffs' motion to remand, (Dkt. No. 31), and granted Defendant GE Aviation's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint, (Dkt. No. 38), Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on August 22, 2013. (Dkt. No. 39.) The Amended Complaint is the current operative complaint, and alleges six separate causes of action: (1) Strict Products Liability under a design defect theory; (2) Strict Products Liability under a manufacturing defect theory; (3) Negligent Products Liability under a negligent design theory; (4) Negligent Products Liability under a negligent manufacturing theory; (5) Negligence; and (6) a Survivor Action pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 377.11 et seq. (See Dkt. No. 39.)

On September 5, 2013, Defendant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company ("E.I Du Pont") filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' sixth cause of action pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 41.) Defendants Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., United Technologies Corporation, and G.E. Aviation Systems, LLC have filed two separate notices of joinder to Defendant E.I. Du Pont's motion to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos. 43, 44.)

Also on September 5, 2013, Defendant PKL Services, Inc. ("PKL") filed a separate motion to dismiss the First through Fourth and Sixth causes of action against PKL as alleged in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 42.) PKL also joins, and incorporates by reference, Defendant E.I. Du Pont's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' sixth cause of action. (Dkt. No. 42-1 at 8-9.)

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v. Block , 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pleaded in the complaint as true, and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. , 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." 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." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly , 550 U.S. at 556).

However, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle [ment] 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 (quoting Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)) (alteration in original). A court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678. In spite of the deference the court is bound to pay to the plaintiff's allegations, it is not proper for the court to assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts that [he or she] has not alleged or that defendants have violated the... laws in ways that have not been alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters , 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). "Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly , 550 U.S. at 557) (internal quotation marks omitted).

II. Analysis

Defendant PKL seeks to dismiss Plaintiffs' first through fourth causes of action on the ground that Plaintiffs have not set forth specific facts related to PKL in relation to those causes of action. (Dkt. No. 42-1 at 4.) In addition, Defendant PKL, (id. at 8) and Defendant E.I. Du Pont, (Dkt. No. 41), move to dismiss Plaintiffs' sixth cause of action on the ground that Plaintiffs' allegations establish that Decedent did not suffer damages prior to his death and thus Plaintiffs may not maintain a survivor action under California Code of Civil Procedure section 377.11. Defendants Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., ...


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