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Johnson v. ADT, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia

May 2, 2019

ALLEN JOHNSON, as brother and surviving heir of Jearlene Johnson, deceased, and on behalf of all wrongful death beneficiaries of Jearlene Johnson; and ALLEN JOHNSON, as Executor of the Estate of Jearlene Johnson; Plaintiff,
v.
ADT, LLC, doing business as ADT Security Services, Inc.; JOHN DOES 1-10; THE ADT CORPORATION; and SAFE STREETS USA, LLC; Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendants ADT, LLC's and The ADT Corporation's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16) and Defendant Safe Streets USA, LLC's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17). For the following reasons, Defendants ADT LLC's and The ADT Corporation's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16) is GRANTED. Defendant Safe Streets USA, LLC's motion (Doc. 17) is DISMISSED AS MOOT.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the circumstances surrounding the death of Jearlene Johnson.[1] (Doc. 7 at ¶¶ 11-18.) On September 16, 2017, Decedent Johnson entered into a contract for monitoring and home security services with Defendant Safe Streets USA, LLC, an authorized dealer of Defendant ADT, LLC ("ADT"). (Id. at ¶ 11.) In reaching the agreement. Defendants were informed that Decedent Johnson suffered from Alzheimer's disease and had a tendency to wander from her home. (Id. at ¶ 12.) In the event that the alarm was triggered at Decedent Johnson's home, Defendants were instructed to contact Decedent Johnson's niece and neighbor, Sheila Archie. (Id. at ¶ 13.} On several occasions, Defendants contacted Ms. Archie when the alarm was triggered at Decedent Johnson's home. (Id.)

         On December 10, 2017, the alarm was activated at Decedent Johnson's home between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Despite the alarm, Defendants failed to notify Ms. Archie. (Id.) The next morning, Ms. Archie went to check on Decedent Johnson and found that Decedent Johnson had succumbed overnight to hypothermia. (Id. at ¶¶ 16-17.)

         On December 10, 2018, Decedent's brother, Allen Johnson, initiated this action on the behalf of all of Decedent Johnson's beneficiaries and Decedent Johnson's estate. (Doc. 1.) In his initial complaint, Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants ADT and John Does 1-10 for negligence, gross negligence, negligent training and supervision, breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, and wrongful death. (Id.) As relief, Plaintiff sought "to recover pre-death pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, and any and all other available estate claims and expenses, resulting from the death of Jearlene Johnson." (Id. at 14.) Additionally, Plaintiff requested punitive damages. (Id.)

         On review, this Court identified deficiencies with respect to the jurisdictional allegations in Plaintiffs initial complaint and directed Plaintiff to file an amended complaint addressing those deficiencies. (Doc. 4 .) On December 27, 2018, Plaintiff complied with this Court's directive and filed an amended complaint reasserting his previous allegations against Defendants ADT and John Does 1-10. (Doc. 7.} In the amended complaint, Plaintiff also added Defendants The ADT Corporation and Safe Streets USA, LLC as defendants in this action. (Id.)

         Defendants have now filed two motions to dismiss. (Doc. 16; Doc 17.) In their nearly identical motions, Defendants contend that Plaintiff has failed to establish any possible basis for recovery and that the entirety of Plaintiff s complaint must be dismissed. Defendants allege that Plaintiff s claims fail because (1) the contract signed by Decedent Johnson bars this lawsuit, or, alternatively, limits Plaintiff s potential recovery; (2) Plaintiffs lawsuit is untimely; (3) Plaintiff s claims based on Defendants' negligence arise solely out of the contract between Decedent Johnson and Defendant ADT; and (4) Plaintiff's fraudulent misrepresentation claim is inefficiently pled and substantively insufficient.

         ANALYSIS

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) (2) requires a complaint to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require "detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "A pleading that offers "labels and conclusions' or a 'formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]' devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557) (alteration in original).

         "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.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). For a claim to have facial plausibility, the plaintiff must plead factual content that "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1261 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678) (internal quotations omitted). Plausibility does not require probability, "but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it 'stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Additionally, a complaint is sufficient only if it gives "fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d at 1268 (quotations omitted) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         When the Court considers a motion to dismiss, it accepts the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true. Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d 1252 at 1260. However, this Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 67 8. Moreover, "unwarranted deductions of fact in a complaint are not admitted as true for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of [plaintiff's] allegations." Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d at 1268 (citing Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce, H.A., Inc., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248 (11th Cir. 2005)). That is, "[t]he rule 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295-96 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545).

         II. DEFENDANTS THE APT CORPORATION AND SAFE STREETS USA, LLC

         In his briefing, Plaintiff has agreed to voluntarily dismiss Defendants The ADT Corporation and Safe Streets USA, LLC from this action without prejudice. (Doc. 22 at 1 n.l.) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 (a) (1) (A) (i), parties are permitted to dismiss a defendant from an action if the dismissal is requested "before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgment." See also Klay v. United Healthgroup, Inc., 376 F.3d 10 92, 1106 (11th Cir. 2004) ("Put simply, Rule 41 allows a plaintiff to dismiss all of his claims against a particular defendant . . ..")■ In this case, no Defendant has filed an answer or motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, Plaintiffs request is GRANTED and Defendants The ADT Corporation and Safe Streets, LLC are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE from this action. Accordingly, Defendant Safe Street LLC's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 17) is DISMISSED AS MOOT.

         III. DEFENDANT APT7S MOTION TO DISMISS

         Although Plaintiff has agreed to dismiss Defendants Safe Streets LLC and The ADT Corporation from this action, Plaintiff maintains his claims with respect to Defendant ADT. Accordingly, the Court will now consider the merits of Defendant ADT's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 16.)

         A. Timeliness ...


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