United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
SHANICE J. PARKER, Plaintiff,
ERIC M. MILLER, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
C. SMITH, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court upon Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Punitive Damages Claims and Motion to
Strike (Doc. 10). Plaintiff opposed Defendants' Motion
(Doc. 14) and Defendants replied in support (Doc. 16). This
matter is now ripe for review. For the following reasons,
Defendants' Motion is GRANTED in part
and DENIED in part.
lawsuit arises out of a car crash on Interstate 70 in Licking
County, Ohio, when the tractor trailer driven by Defendant
Eric Miller struck a vehicle in which Plaintiff Shanice
Parker was sitting. Prior to Miller striking Plaintiff,
Plaintiff had crashed her car into a wall and her car was
disabled in the right lane on I-70. (Doc. 8, Am. Compl. at
¶¶ 14-15). A highway patrolman arrived on the scene
and parked behind Plaintiff in the right lane of traffic.
(Id. at ¶ 16). The patrolman turned on his
emergency lights and set flares in the roadway. (Id.
at ¶ 17). While investigating the initial crash, the
patrolman asked Plaintiff to sit in the front seat of his
patrol car. (Id. at ¶ 18).
Plaintiff was sitting in the patrol car, Miller crested a
nearby hill in a tractor-trailer going 70 miles per hour.
(Id. at ¶¶ 20, 25). Miller was driving the
tractor-trailer while working on behalf of Defendant
Dakotaland Transportation, Inc. (“Dakotaland”)
and/or Defendant Fowlds Brothers Trucking
(“Fowlds”). (Id. at ¶ 6).
Dakotaland and/or Fowlds owned the truck Miller was driving.
(Id. at ¶¶ 7-8). Plaintiff alleges that as
Miller crested the hill, he had sufficient time to see the
patrol car blocking the right hand lane to stop or to change
lanes. (Id. at ¶ 23). Miller applied the brakes
two seconds before impact, but did not stop or change lanes
and crashed into the back of the patrol car, causing severe
injuries to Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 26, 28).
brought this case against Miller, Fowlds, and Dakotaland
alleging: (1) Miller negligently operated his vehicle; (2)
Miller violated numerous federal and state traffic
regulations; (3) that Dakotaland and Fowlds are vicariously
liable for Miller's actions; (4) that Dakotaland and
Fowlds are strictly liable for Miller's acts; (5) that
Dakotaland and Fowlds negligently hired, trained, instructed,
and supervised Miller; (6) that Dakotaland and Fowlds
violated certain Ohio and federal regulations; and (7) that
Dakotaland and Fowlds negligently entrusted the vehicle to
Miller. Plaintiff also seeks punitive damages from all three
defendants. Defendants now move to dismiss the punitive
damages claims against each Defendant and to strike the
police report attached to the Amended Complaint.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
bring this motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging that Plaintiff failed to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Under the
Federal Rules, any pleading that states a claim for relief
must contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim” showing that the pleader is entitled to such
relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To meet this standard, a party
must allege sufficient facts to state a claim that is
“plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A claim will be
considered “plausible on its face” when a
plaintiff sets forth “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
12(b)(6) allows parties to challenge the sufficiency of a
complaint under the foregoing standards. In considering
whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted, the Court must “construe the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its
allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff.” Ohio Police & Fire
Pension Fund v. Standard & Poor's Fin. Servs.
LLC, 700 F.3d 829, 835 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir.
2007)). However, “the tenet that a court must accept a
complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to
threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements,
supported by mere conclusory statements.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. Thus, while a court is to
afford plaintiff every inference, the pleading must still
contain facts sufficient to “provide a plausible basis
for the claims in the complaint”; a recitation of facts
intimating the “mere possibility of misconduct”
will not suffice. Flex Homes, Inc. v. Ritz-Craft Corp of
Mich., Inc., 491 F. App'x 628, 632 (6th Cir. 2012);
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
before the Court are two motions, Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss the punitive damages claims and Defendants'
Motion to Strike. The Court will address each in turn.
Motions to Dismiss Punitive Damages Claims
to the Ohio Revised Code punitive damages may be awarded
after a plaintiff establishes that “[t]he actions or
omissions of that defendant demonstrate malice or aggravated
or egregious fraud, or that defendant as principal or master
knowingly authorized, participated in, or ratified actions or
omissions of an agent or servant that so demonstrate.”
Ohio Rev. Code § 2315.21(C)(1). Both Plaintiff and
Defendants identified the correct standard courts have set
forth as defining actual malice:
Actual malice, necessary for an award of punitive damages, is
(1) that state of mind under which a person's conduct is
characterized by hatred, ill will or a spirit of revenge, or
(2) a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of other