Plaintiff was working in the hold of a refrigerated cargo vessel that was berthed at the Port of Gloucester, NJ. He injured his leg when it was crushed under machinery. He filed suit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey and named eight companies as defendants. The Complaint did not allege the specific roles of each defendant and instead generally plead that each company “owned, leased, operated, managed, possessed and/or controlled” the vessel. Plaintiff lodged similar allegations regarding the defendants’ ownership and operation of the port. Plaintiff cited three causes of action including negligence for violation of twenty-four duties, Section 905(b) of the LHWCA, and loss of consortium on behalf of Plaintiff’s spouse.
One Defendant filed a 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss, arguing the Complaint failed to provide notice of which particular claims were being lodged against it. The Complaint merely lumped all defendants together and accused them of the same general negligent conduct. The Defendant also argued the Complaint failed to include any factual basis that it owned the vessel, as required for a Section 905(b) claim.
After thoroughly reviewing the Complaint, the Court found that it failed to separate out the liability of each defendant. The Court noted that if the Complaint had merely described the nature of each defendant company and what they were responsible for, it might have been possible to at least infer a theory of liability. Instead, Plaintiff had merely lumped all defendants together and asserted general allegations against broadly against the group. The Court granted Defendant’s motion and dismissed the Complaint without prejudice.
Sheeran v. Blyth Shipholding