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Benedict v. Hankook Tire Co. Limited

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

February 15, 2018

ROBERT BENEDICT, Plaintiff,
v.
HANKOOK TIRE COMPANY LIMITED, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on HANKOOK TIRE COMPANY LIMITED AND HANKOOK TIRE AMERICA CORPORATION'S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF No. 331). For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         In this products liability action, Robert Benedict sues Hankook Tire Company Limited ("HTCL") and Hankook Tire America Corporation ("HTAC") for the production and distribution of an allegedly defective tire. Defendants seek dismissal of Benedict's Second Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         A. Factual Context

         A detailed overview of the facts of this case appears in the Court's Memorandum Opinions resolving Benedict's and Defendants' motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 341, 343) . In short, however, this action involves a single-vehicle accident that occurred when the front right tire (the "subject tire") of a cement truck driven by Benedict suffered a tread separation and the truck thereafter collided with an embankment on the side of the road. The subject tire was a Hankook Aurora THO8 Radial 425/65 R22.5 manufactured by HTCL in South Korea in 2005 and distributed in the United States by HTAC.

         B. Procedural History

         Benedict initially asserted three claims: (1) products liability negligence (including manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure to warn); (2) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability; and (3) breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. First Am. Compl. 5-11. He is now pursuing only a negligent manufacturing claim against HTCL and an implied warranty of merchantability claim against HTCL and HTAC. Second Am. Compl. 4, 6.

         In October 2017, both sides moved for summary judgment. Benedict sought partial summary judgment to bar Defendants' contributory negligence defense. Defendants sought summary judgment as to Benedict's active claims. The Court ruled on these motions during a hearing held on November 20, 2017, Nov. 20, 2017 Hr'g Tr. 152, and subsequently issued an ORDER (ECF No. 221) and Memorandum Opinions (ECF Nos. 341, 343) formalizing its decisions.

         After deciding these motions, the Court directed Benedict to file a Second Amended Complaint containing only his active claims. Nov. 20, 2017 Hr'g Tr. 162-63; ORDER (ECF No. 209). Benedict filed his Second Amended Complaint on December 29, 2017. Defendants then filed the motion to dismiss that is the subject of this Opinion.

         THE APPLICABLE STANDARD

         This Court has described the legal standard applicable to motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) in the following way:

Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) (6) permits a party to move for dismissal of a claim if the complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (a) (2) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim" showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
Courts should assume the veracity of all well-pleaded allegations in the Complaint, and should deny a motion to dismiss where those well-pleaded allegations state a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is "plausible" when the plaintiff pleads facts sufficient to allow the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. The court should grant a motion to dismiss, however, where the allegations are nothing more than legal ...

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