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Clayton v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 20, 2018

WILLIAM R. CLAYTON, et al., Plaintiffs,




         Before the court are two motions: (1) Defendant Saberhagen Holdings, Inc.'s (“Saberhagen”) motion for judgment on the pleadings or, alternatively, for summary judgment (MJOP (Dkt. # 39)); and (2) Plaintiffs William R. Clayton and Jill D. Clayton's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) motion for relief from a deadline (MFR (Dkt. # 47)). The court has considered the motions, the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the motions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS Saberhagen's motion and DENIES as moot Plaintiffs' motion for the reasons set forth below.


         Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Clayton developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos-containing products during his military service.[2] (See SAC (Dkt # 1-1) § III.) Plaintiffs assert that various defendants-including Saberhagen-“minted, manufactured, produced, and/or placed into the stream of commerce” the asbestos-containing products that caused Mr. Clayton's disease or that Mr. Clayton was exposed to those products on the defendants' premises. (Id.)

         Saberhagen, a Washington corporation, dissolved on August 22, 2013.[3] (Thorson Decl. (Dkt. # 40) ¶ 2, Ex. A (“Articles”).) Plaintiffs allege that the dissolution is “legally invalid” because Saberhagen “failed to furnish proper notice to known creditors under Washington law.” (SAC § IV.) They also contend that on January 2, 2015, Saberhagen's former shareholders formed “a new Saberhagen entity”-Saberhagen-Matson LLC (“Saberhagen-Matson”). (MJOP Resp. at 3 (citing 1st Aliment Decl. (Dkt. # 48) ¶ 3, Ex. 3); see also 2d Aliment Decl. (Dkt. # 54) ¶ 4.) Based on those alleged facts, Plaintiffs contend that despite the dissolution, they may nevertheless still recover against Saberhagen. (See MJOP Resp. at 6.)

         Plaintiffs assert several theories of tort liability, including: product liability, negligence, premises liability, conspiracy, and strict liability for abnormally dangerous activities. (SAC § V.) They seek general and special damages for pain, suffering, “loss of spousal relationship, ” disability, medical expenses, and economic loss. (Id.)

         Saberhagen moves for judgment on the pleadings, or, in the alternative, summary judgment. (See MJOP at 2.) Plaintiffs move for an extension of time to respond to that motion (see MFR), but because they noted their motion for the same day as Saberhagen's (id. at 1 (noting on July 13, 2018)), Plaintiffs nonetheless responded to Saberhagen's motion (see MJOP Resp.). The court now considers the motions.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Saberhagen's Motion

         1. Legal Standard

         As a threshold matter, the court decides whether to treat Saberhagen's motion as one for judgment on the pleadings or for summary judgment. (See MJOP at 8 (stating that Saberhagen “believes the present motion is appropriate for consideration under Rule 12(c), ” but if the court treats it as a motion for summary judgment, Saberhagen nevertheless prevails); MJOP Resp. at 6, 11 (citing Rule 12(c) and requesting a Rule 56(d) continuance to conduct discovery).) “After the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). If the court considers matters outside of the pleadings, the motion becomes one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However, in ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion, the court may consider material properly submitted as part of the complaint, documents incorporated into a complaint by reference, and matters subject to judicial notice. See Risos-Camposano v. Nev. Sys. of Higher Educ., No. 3:14-cv-00181-RCJ-VPC, 2014 WL 5503128, at *3 (D. Nev. Oct. 29, 2014).

         In support of its motion, Saberhagen submits its articles of dissolution, published notice of its dissolution, and several court orders dismissing Saberhagen from similar asbestos-related cases. (Articles; Thorson Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. B (“Notice”); id. ¶¶ 5-12, Exs. D-K.) Plaintiffs do not question the authenticity of those documents (see MJOP Resp.), and so the court may take judicial notice of them, see Fed. R. Evid. 201(b)(2); Crosby v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 42 F.Supp.3d 1343, 1345 (C.D. Cal. 2014) (citing Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1068, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005)) (stating that a document was properly subject to judicial notice when no one questioned the authenticity of the document). Thus, the court takes judicial notice of the documents and considers the motion under Rule 12(c). See Fed. R. Evid. 201(b)(2); Heliotrope Gen., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 189 F.3d 971, 981 n.18 (9th Cir. 1999).

         A Rule 12(c) motion challenges the sufficiency of the opposing party's pleadings, and the court applies the standard for a motion under Rule 12(b)(6). Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108-09 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989) (stating that “[t]he principal difference” between Rule 12(c) and Rule 12(b)(6) motions “is the time of filing”). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when, even if all material facts in the pleading are true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989).

         2. Judgment ...

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