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Pinnavaia v. The Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 22, 2017

MATTHEW D. PINNAVAIA, on behalf of Joseph C. Pinnavaia, deceased, Plaintiff,

          Matthew D. Pinnavaia, on behalf of Joseph C. Pinnavaia, deceased, Oceanside, California, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Carl N. Kunz, III, Esquire, Morris James LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.




         Plaintiff Matthew D. Pinnavaia on behalf of Joseph C. Pinnavaia, deceased, ("Plaintiff), who proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, commenced this action on August 22, 2016. (D.I. 2) He alleges Defendant Celotcx Asbestos Settlement Trust ("Defendant") violated his deceased father's right to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Pending is Defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in die alternative, 12(b)(1). (D.I. 8) For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion.


         Defendant is a settlement trust formed pursuant to the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. §524(g), by the Celotex Corporation ("Celotex") and Carey Canada, Inc. ("Carey Canada") (its wholly-owned subsidiary), following their bankruptcy, to compensate individuals injured by their asbestos-containing building products. (See D.I. 10, Ex. A at ¶¶ 13-14) (order confirming plan of reorganization). Plaintiff filed a claim to the Trust based on his father's alleged exposure to asbestos products. (D.I. 2 at ¶ 5) The Trust denied the claim as time-barred under Defendant's claims resolution procedures. (Id. at ¶ 16) Plaintiff alleges that the statute of limitations clause is illegal and an unlawful imposition of artificial limits placed upon his father in violation of due process rights under die Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at¶ 17) Plaintiff was authorized to initiate lidgation concerning the value of his claim under die claims processing procedures adopted by the Trust. (Id. at ¶ 8; Ex. 3)

         Defendant moves for dismissal on the grounds that: (1) it is not a governmental actor and the claim fails as a matter of law; (2) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction; and (3) the claim is time-barred. (D.I. 9) Plaintiff opposes on the basis that his father's due process rights were violated. (D.I. 14) He did not address the other grounds for dismissal raised by Defendant.


         Evaluating a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis, 372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Utig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a motion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maw v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 481-82 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         A well-pleaded complaint must contain more than mere labels and conclusions. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A plaintiff must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has substantive plausibility. See Johnson v. City of She/by, __U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014). A complaint may not dismissed, however, for imperfect statements of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted. See Id. at 346.

         "To survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'" Victaulic Co. v. Tieman, 499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A claim is facially plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbaly 556 U.S. at 678. At bottom, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of a plaintiffs claim. Wilkerson v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The Court is not obligated to accept as true "bald assertions'' Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted), "unsupported conclusions and unwarranted inferences, " Schuylkill Energy Res., Inc. v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 113 F.3d 405, 417 (3d Cir. 1997), or allegations that are "self-evidently false, " Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 69 (3d Cir. 1996). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his Complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         IV. ...

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