United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
RE: DKT. NO. 13
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Signal Mutual Indemnity Association, Ltd. is a group
self-insurer that secures and discharges its members’
liabilities under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’
Compensation Act (“LHWCA”). Defendants include
Dignity Health St. Francis Memorial Hospital, Dr. Clement
Jones, and Dr. David Cohen.
before the Court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss the
complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1),
12(b)(6), and 12(e). Dkt. No. 13. After reviewing the
materials submitted by the parties, hearing oral argument,
and considering the issues raised in both, the Court GRANTS
Defendants’ motion with leave to amend.
Dwayne Washington was a longshoreman employee at the Port of
Oakland working for Total Terminals International, Inc. Dkt.
No. 1, ¶ 9. In August 2012, decedent suffered a
work-related injury while operating a sidepick. Id.
at ¶ 10. Plaintiff is Total Terminal
International’s insurer; pursuant to the LHWCA,
Plaintiff has been paying worker’s compensation
benefits to decedent since his injury. Id. at ¶
11. In May 2014, decedent had disc- replacement surgery at
Defendant Dignity Health Hospital; Defendant Dr. Cohen
performed the surgery and Defendants Dr. Cohen, Dr. Jones,
and hospital staff performed the post-operative care.
Id. at ¶¶ 12-14. On the third
post-operative day, decedent died. Id. at ¶ 15.
The complaint alleges that “preventable medical
error” was the cause of death. Id. at ¶
the injury, decedent filed a state court action against
Marine Terminal Corporation (the owner of the sidepick) for
its alleged negligence in causing the injury. After his
death, decedent’s heirs amended the state action to
include medical malpractice and wrongful death against MTC
and the defendant health care providers.
filed this lawsuit in federal court against Defendants on
August 20, 2015. The complaint alleges that “[b]ut for
the negligence and conduct of Defendants, . . . Plaintiff
would not have been required to pay compensation to
Decedent’s heirs, pursuant to the terms of the
LHWCA.” Id. at ¶ 18. The complaint
alleges two causes of action: (1) negligence, and (2) implied
equitable indemnity and subrogation.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
invoke a federal court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, a
plaintiff needs to provide only “a short and plain
statement of the grounds for the court’s
jurisdiction.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). “The
plaintiff must allege facts, not mere legal conclusions, in
compliance with the pleading standards established by”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009). Leite v.
Crane Co., 749 F.3d 1117, 1121 (9th Cir. 2014).
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows a party to challenge
a federal court’s jurisdiction over the subject matter
of the complaint. As the party invoking the jurisdiction, the
Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the Court has
the requisite subject matter jurisdiction to grant the relief
requested. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A complaint will be
dismissed if, looking at the complaint as a whole, it appears
to lack federal jurisdiction either “facially” or
“factually.” See Thornhill Publ’g Co.,
Inc. v. Gen. Tel. & Elecs. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733
(9th Cir. 1979).
a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations
contained in a complaint are insufficient on their face to
invoke federal jurisdiction.” Safe Air for Everyone
v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). “By
contrast, in a factual attack, the challenger disputes the
truth of the allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise
invoke federal jurisdiction.” Id.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)
defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for failing to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). “Dismissal under Rule
12(b)(6) is appropriate only where the complaint lacks a
cognizable legal theory or sufficient facts to support a
cognizable legal theory.” Mendiondo v. Centinela
Hosp. Med. Ctr., 521 F.3d 1097, 1104 (9th Cir. 2008). To
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff must plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. A claim is facially plausible when a plaintiff pleads
“factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
reviewing the plausibility of a complaint, courts
“accept factual allegations in the complaint as true
and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire &
Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008).
Nonetheless, Courts do not “accept as true allegations
that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact,
or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis.
Secs. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e)
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e) permits a party to “move
for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a
responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or
ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a
response.” “A Rule 12(e) motion is proper only
where the complaint is so indefinite that the defendant
cannot ascertain the nature of the claim being asserted and
therefore cannot reasonably be expected to frame a proper
response.” Gregory Vill. Partners, L.P. v. Chevron
U.S.A., Inc., 805 F.Supp.2d 888, 896 (N.D. Cal. 2011)
(internal quotation ...