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Brown v. Family Dollar Corp.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

May 15, 2018

KIRSHA BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
FAMILY DOLLAR CORPORATION and DOLLAR TREE CORPORATION, Defendants.

          ORDER

          PAUL G .BYRON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on Defendant Dollar Tree Corporation's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, or Alternatively, Motion to Strike (Doc. 37), filed March 14, 2018. Pro se Plaintiff Kirsha Brown filed a memorandum in opposition (Doc. 39), to which Defendant Dollar Tree Corporation replied (Doc. 44). With briefing complete, this matter is ripe. Upon consideration, Defendant Dollar Tree's Motion is due to be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Kirsha Brown brings this action against Defendants, Family Dollar Corporation (“Family Dollar”) and Dollar Tree Corporation (“Dollar Tree”), for injuries arising out of a June 20, 2017, visit to the Family Dollar store (the “Store”) at 918 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, Florida. (Doc. 36, p. 2 (“Second Amended Complaint” or “SAC”)). Plaintiff claims that as she walked past the Store, Darlene Liksy, a Family Dollar employee, began filming her with a cellphone. (Id. at p. 4). When Plaintiff asked why she was being filmed, Liksy shoved her. (Id.). Then, Lindsay Jackson, another Family Dollar employee, threatened to shoot Plaintiff if she did not leave. (Id.). To make matters worse, Desiree Willis, yet another Family Dollar employee, retrieved a wooden bat from the Store and approached Plaintiff. (Id.). During the ensuing altercation, Liksy and Jackson punched Plaintiff, and Willis clubbed Plaintiff in the head with the bat. (Id.). The police were eventually called and Plaintiff was able to escape. (Id.).

         Plaintiff was diagnosed with a “Soft Tissue Laceration” from the attack. (Id.). On June 20, 2017, emergency physicians recommended Plaintiff “undergo a stable [sic] procedure for [her] head injury.” (Id.). Plaintiff has also experienced hair loss, pain, irritation, and scarring since the incident. (Id. at pp. 4-5).

         Although Plaintiff's alleged attackers were Family Dollar employees, Plaintiff names Dollar Tree as Defendant because Dollar Tree owns and controls Family Dollar. (Id. at p. 2). The Second Amended Complaint alleges five Counts against Defendants Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, jointly. (Id. at pp. 2-3). Counts I-III are styled “Negligence Counts, ” but aver three criminal offenses “committed against Plaintiff:” aggravated battery, felony battery, and misdemeanor assault.[1] (Id.). Counts IV and V allege claims for civil battery and civil assault. (Id. at p. 3).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). Thus, in order to survive a motion to dismiss made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the 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)). A claim is plausible on its face when the plaintiff “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         Though a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, mere legal conclusions or recitation of the elements of a claim are not enough. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, courts are “not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Courts must also view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must resolve any doubts as to the sufficiency of the complaint in the plaintiff's favor. Hunnings v. Texaco, Inc., 29 F.3d 1480, 1483 (11th Cir. 1994) (per curiam). In sum, courts must (1) ignore conclusory allegations, bald legal assertions, and formulaic recitations of the elements of a claim; (2) accept well-pled factual allegations as true; and (3) view well-pled allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Claims Against Dollar Tree

         Defendant Dollar Tree moves to dismiss the claims asserted against it in the SAC because Plaintiff has not pleaded a basis for Dollar Tree's liability. (Doc. 44).

         Parent corporations are generally not liable for their subsidiaries' acts. United States v. Bestfoods, 524 U.S. 51, 61 (1998). Corporations are separate, free-standing legal entities, “thus, th[e] separate corporate form cannot be disregarded.” Molenda v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 60 F.Supp.2d 1294, (S.D. Fla. 1999). However, the corporate form may be set aside-and the veil pierced-in rare circumstances.

         A parent corporation may be held liable for the actions of its subsidiary if the “subsidiary is deemed to be a ‘mere instrumentality' of the parent.” Federated TitleInsurers, Inc. v. ...


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