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Atlantic Specialty Insurance Co. v. Mercier Marine Enterprise, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

May 23, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court on defendant Brunswick Corporation's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #17) filed on March 30, 2018. Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (Doc. # 21) on April 23, 2018. For the reasons stated below, defendant Brunswick Corporation's Motion is granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiff is granted leave to file an amended complaint.


         According to the Complaint (Doc. #1): On unspecified dates defendant Brunswick Corporation, d/b/a Sea Ray Boats (Brunswick), manufactured a 2013 45-foot Sea Ray vessel (the Vessel) which it then sold to Joseph Campbell (Campbell). (Doc. #1, ¶¶ 1, 2.) Campbell obtained an insurance policy on the Vessel from Atlantic Speciality Insurance Co. (Atlantic Specialty) for the relevant time period. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         On June 28, 2016, Campbell ran the Vessel aground while operating it in navigable waters off the coast of Naples, Florida. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 10, 11.) Campbell attempted to move the Vessel immediately following running aground, but was unable to do so because the Vessel's Zeus Pods (the Product) failed to sheer, causing the Vessel to sink. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 5.)

         Defendant Mercier Marine Enterprise, LLC, d/b/a Sea Tow Naples (Sea Tow), responded to the sunken Vessel to conduct a salvage operation. (Id. ¶ 5.) Sea Tow used a gas-operated pump in order to keep the Vessel from taking on water. (Id. ¶ 7.) The pump leaked gas on or near the Vessel's exhaust, which caused the Vessel to catch fire. (Id. ¶ 8.) As the result of the damage caused by the fire, Atlantic Speciality paid Campbell $936, 622.00 as the agreed upon value for the Vessel. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         Atlantic Specialty filed a five-count Complaint in which it seeks, as the subrogee of Campbell, recovery of its damages. Atlantic Speciality asserts one claim against Sea Tow for gross negligence (Count I). Atlantic Specialty asserts four claims against Brunswick: Negligence (Count II), breach of express warranty (Count III), breach of implied warranty of merchantability (Count IV), and breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (Count V).

         Sea Tow filed an Answer (Doc. #15) and is not involved in the current motion. Brunswick moves to dismiss all counts against it, asserting that (1) Plaintiff's negligence claim is barred by the economic loss rule; and (2) Plaintiff failed to state causes of action for breach of express and implied warranties because Plaintiff has not adequately pled privity. (Doc. #17.)


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a complaint to contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion seeking to dismiss a complaint for failing to comply with Rule 8(a), the Court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and “construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Baloco ex rel. Tapia v. Drummond Co., 640 F.3d 1338, 1345 (11th Cir. 2011). However, mere “[l]egal conclusions without adequate factual support are entitled to no assumption of truth.” Mamani v. Berzain, 654 F.3d 1148, 1153 (11th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted).

         To avoid dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). To do so requires “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. This plausibility pleading obligation demands “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. at 555 (citation omitted); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”); Chaparro v. Carnival Corp., 693 F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2012) (“Factual allegations that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability fall short of being facially plausible.” (citation omitted)). Thus, the Court engages in a two-step approach: “When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.


         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         The only basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction set forth in the Complaint is admiralty jurisdiction. The caption of the Complaint states that it is “IN ADMIRALTY, ” and the body of the Complaint states that it includes a maritime tort “that occurred on navigable water during a traditional maritime activity or activities that could or did impact maritime commerce.” (Doc. #1, ¶ 10.) “With admiralty jurisdiction comes the application of substantive admiralty law.” E. River S.S. Corp. v. Transamerica Delaval, Inc., 476 U.S. 858, 864 (1986). The Court, however, has “an independent duty to ensure admiralty jurisdiction exists before applying admiralty law.” Doe v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc., 394 F.3d 891, 900 (11th Cir. 2004).

         (1) Admiralty Jurisdiction Over ...

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