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AIG Property Casualty Co. v. Bradford Marine Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

May 14, 2018

AIG PROPERTY CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
BRADFORD MARINE INC., Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
FLORIDA MARINE PROPULSION CORP. d/b/a Lauderdale Propeller Service, Third-Party Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          BETH BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Third-Party Defendant Florida Marine Propulsion Corp.'s (“Florida Marine”) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Cause of Action or alternatively, Motion for More Definite Statement, ECF No. [30] (“Motion”). The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, all opposing and supporting materials, the record in this case, the applicable law, and is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, AIG Property Casualty Company (“AIG”), filed this action as subrogee of its insured Pissaro Properties, Ltd. (“Pissaro”). See ECF No. [1]. In the Complaint, AIG alleged that Pissaro engaged Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff, Bradford Marine, Inc. (“Bradford Marine”) to repair the M/Y Francine, entering into a Dockage and Repair Contract. Id. at ¶ 8. Thereafter, Bradford Marine sent the propeller to be inspected by Florida Marine, which sent an email stating, in part, that the propeller blades were badly bent and “the propeller will never be right again.” Id. at ¶ 9. Florida Marine stated it would scan the propeller to determine whether a matching set can be made. Id. According to the Complaint, Bradford Marine thereafter presented Pissaro with a written proposal to supply a new propeller with an approximate delivery six weeks from the date of the order, which Pissaro accepted. Id. at ¶ 10-11. The first propeller delivered was allegedly different from the original one and could not be used. Id. at ¶ 12. The second replacement propeller was also allegedly of an incorrect size. Id. at ¶ 13. Finally, a third propeller was delivered and fitted onto the vessel in December of 2016. Id. at ¶ 14. However, Bradford Marine was allegedly required to supply the replacement vessel six months earlier in July of 2016. Id. at ¶ 15. AIG, as subrogee, seeks to recover the amount of the claim it paid its insured due to the delayed propeller delivery. Id. at ¶ 16.

         In response to the Complaint, Bradford Marine filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses along with a Third-Party Complaint against Florida Marine. See ECF No. [5]. The Third-Party Complaint alleges that it is “an action for indemnity in an amount not less than $248, 291.07 plus prejudgment interest, costs, and such other relief as is appropriate under the circumstances.” Id. at ¶ 3. Consistent with the allegations of the Complaint, the Third-Party Complaint alleges that, on December 30, 2016, Bradford Marine contracted with Pissaro to repair and replace the vessel's port-side propeller and shaft, and once these were removed from the vessel, they were sent to Florida Marine. Id. at ¶ 5. Florida Marine thereafter reported to Bradford Marine and Pissaro that neither the propeller nor the shaft could be repaired, recommending they order new ones. Id. Pissaro, in turn, agreed to have a new propeller and shaft manufactured and Florida Marine was notified of this decision. Id. at ¶ 6. The order was placed and Pissaro was informed that it would take six weeks to complete the fabrication. Id. At this point, the Third-Party Complaint alleges that Florida Marine prepared specifications for fabrication of the new propeller and provided these to non-party CJR Propulsion (“CJR”) in the United Kingdom. Id. Upon the delivery of the propeller and shaft, it was discovered that they could not be used because the “cord was off and the pitch was higher than that of the damaged propeller.” Id. at ¶ 7. According to the Third-Party Complaint, Pissaro and Florida Marine thereafter worked directly with each other to order a second propeller based upon scans Florida Marine provided to CJR. Id. at ¶ 8. The second propeller was not usable either, so Pissaro, Florida Marine, and CJR agreed that CJR would fabricate a third propeller. Id. at ¶ 9. The third one, delivered in mid-to-late November of 2016, was suitable for installation on the vessel. Id.

         Based on these allegations, Bradford alleges that “if it is held liable to AIG, it is entitled to indemnification and/or contribution from Lauderdale Propeller [Florida Marine] for its negligence in preparing and providing the necessary specifications and other information to CJR resulting in the fabrication of a total of three propellers and the delay attendant to the required fabrication of them.” Id. at ¶ 10. Bradford Marine further alleges that its right to indemnity and/or contribution arises from Florida Marine's (1) negligence in providing proper information to CJR resulting in the fabrication of the first propeller, (2) negligence in the preparation of scans and specifications provided to CJR resulting in the fabrication of the second propeller, and (3) negligence in the supervision of CJR such that two incorrect propellers were fabricated, causing a twelve-to-fourteen-week delay to the vessel's repair. Id. at ¶ 11.

         In response to the Third-Party Complaint, Florida Marine seeks dismissal of the indemnity and contribution claims or alternatively requests a more definite statement. See ECF No. [30]. Bradford Marine's Memorandum of Law in Opposition and Florida Marine's Reply timely followed. See ECF Nos. [33] and [35]. The Motion is now ripe for adjudication.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         a. Motion to Dismiss

         A pleading in a civil action must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Although a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” it must provide “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (explaining that Rule 8(a)(2)'s pleading standard “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation”). Nor can a complaint rest on “‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (alteration in original)).

         When reviewing a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, as a general rule, must accept the plaintiff's allegations as true and evaluate all plausible inferences derived from those facts in favor of the plaintiff. See Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. S. Everglades Restoration Alliance, 304 F.3d 1076, 1084 (11th Cir. 2002); AXA Equitable Life Ins. Co. v. Infinity Fin. Grp., LLC, 608 F.Supp.2d 1349, 1353 (S.D. Fla. 2009). However, this tenet does not apply to legal conclusions, and courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; see Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Thaeter v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff's Office, 449 F.3d 1342, 1352 (11th Cir. 2006). Moreover, “courts may infer from the factual allegations in the complaint ‘obvious alternative explanations, ' which suggest lawful conduct rather than the unlawful conduct the plaintiff would ask the court to infer.” Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 682). A court considering a Rule 12(b) motion is generally limited to the facts contained in the complaint and attached exhibits, including documents referred to in the complaint that are central to the claim. See Wilchombe v. TeeVee Toons, Inc., 555 F.3d 949, 959 (11th Cir. 2009); Maxcess, Inc. v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 433 F.3d 1337, 1340 (11th Cir. 2005) (“[A] document outside the four corners of the complaint may still be considered if it is central to the plaintiff's claims and is undisputed in terms of authenticity.”) (citing Horsley v. Feldt, 304 F.3d 1125, 1135 (11th Cir. 2002)).

         b. Motion for a More Definite Statement

         Under Rule 12(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “a party may move for a more definite statement of a pleading to which a responsive pleading is allowed but which is so vague or ambiguous that the party cannot reasonably prepare a response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). Since courts have liberally construed the pleading standard under Rule 8(a), “a short and plain statement” will be enough, unless upon motion it is shown that the pleading “is so ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably” respond. Betancourt v. Marine Cargo Mgm't, Inc., 930 F.Supp. 606, 608 (S.D. Fla. 1996). “Most courts disfavor the use of Rule 12(e), ” and “motions for a more definite statement should not be used as a means of discovery.” Royal Shell Vacations, Inc. v. Scheyndel, 233 F.R.D 629, 630 (M.D. Fla. 2005).

         III. ...


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