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Becker v. Continental Motors Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 29, 2018

DARREN DALE BECKER, Individually and as Executor of the Estate of DONALD DALE BECKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTINENTAL MOTORS, INC., et al., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          HONORABLE LEONARD P. STARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         WHEREAS, Magistrate Judge Burke issued a 13-page Report and Recommendation ("Report") (D.I. 59), dated September 21, 2017, recommending that the Court (i) grant without prejudice Defendant Continental Motors Inc.'s ("Continental") motion to dismiss Counts IV, V, and VI of Plaintiff Darren Dale Becker, individually and as executor of the estate of Donald Dale Becker's ("Plaintiff) Complaint (D.I. 33) and (ii) permit Plaintiff fourteen (14) days to file an amended complaint;

         WHEREAS, on October 5, 2017, Plaintiff objected to the Report ("Report Objections") (D.I. 60);

         WHEREAS, on October 19, 2017, Continental responded to Plaintiffs Report Objections ("Report Response") (D.I. 63);

         WHEREAS, Magistrate Judge Burke issued an oral order ("Order") (see D.I. 75) on October 27, 2017, denying Plaintiffs motion to stay this action pending resolution of a parallel suit in South Carolina state court (D.I. 52);

         WHEREAS, on November 13, 2017, Plaintiff objected to the Order ("Order Objections") (D.I. 77), specifically to Judge Burke basing his decision on an abstention doctrine, rather than the Court's inherent discretionary power to stay litigation;

         WHEREAS, on November 27, 2017, Continental and Defendant Engine Components, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants") responded to Plaintiffs Order Objections ("Order Response") (D.I. 79);

         WHEREAS, the Court has reviewed the parties' objections and responses to the Report de novo, see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011), and the parties' objections and responses to the Order under the "clearly erroneous and contrary to law" standard, see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); Haines v. Liggett Grp. Inc., 975 F.2d 81, 91 (3d Cir. 1992) ("[T]he phrase 'contrary to law' indicates plenary review as to matters of law.");

         NOW THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

         1. Plaintiffs Report Objections (D.I. 60) are OVERRULED, Judge Burke's Report (D.I. 59) is ADOPTED, Continental's Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 33) is GRANTED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, and Plaintiff is GRANTED fourteen (14) days to file an amended complaint.

         2. Plaintiff s Order Objections (D.I. 77) are OVERRULED, Judge Burke's Order (D.I. 75) is AFFIRMED, and Plaintiffs Motion for Stay (D.I. 52) is DENIED.

         3. Plaintiff objects to the Report's finding that Plaintiff did not adequately plead proximate causation. (.See D.I. 60 at 1) Plaintiff contends that the Report misapplied the pleading standard, arguing that the Complaint adequately pleads "how defects in the engine resulting [in] power loss caused the underlying accident, " whether South Carolina or Delaware law is applied. (See Id. at 3-4, 6)

         4. 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 Court may grant 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." Maio v. Aetna, Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 482 (3d Cir. 2000) (quotation marks omitted). However, to survive a motion to dismiss, "[t]he complaint must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] necessary element" of the plaintiffs claim. Wither son v. New Media Tech. Charter Sch. Inc., 522 F.3d 315, 321 (3d Cir. 2008) (quotation marks omitted).

         5. Under South Carolina law, [1] establishing proximate cause requires a plaintiff to prove causation in fact (or "but for" causation) and legal cause. See McKnight v. S.C. Dep'tof Corr.,684 S.E.2d 566, 569 (S.C. Ct. App. 2009). Under Delaware law, a plaintiff must "prove that but for the tortious conduct of the defendant, the injury which the plaintiff has suffered would not have ...


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