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JH Rose Logistics LLC v. Dometic Corp.

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

April 8, 2019

J.H. ROSE LOGISTICS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DOMETIC CORPORATION, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AND PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND COMPLAINT

          ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Dometic Corporation's (“Dometic”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Dkt. 12) and the Plaintiff J.H. Rose Logistics, LLC's (“Rose”) motion for leave to amend the complaint (Dkt. 13). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the file herein.

         Originally filed on January 22, 2019, this case was removed from Pierce County, Superior Court on January 25, 2019. Dkt. 1-1. Dometic now moves for a judgment on the pleadings to dismiss the case, arguing that Rose has failed to plead a claim for relief. Dkt. 12. Rose opposes the motion, but, if the Court is inclined to grant the motion, moves for leave to amend the complaint. Dkt. 13. For the reasons provided, the motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. 12) should be denied without prejudice and the motion for leave to file an amended complaint (Dkt. 13) should be granted.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. FACTS

         According to the one-page Complaint, Dometic owes Rose “$154, 578.00 in freight charges, plus collection fees, plus interest, for numerous shipments in which Dometic was the shipper and or consignee and [Rose] was the carrier, as summarized in the attached General Ledger Report . . .” Dkt. 1-1, at 2. The Complaint alleges that “despite demand, no part of the amount set forth above has been paid” to Rose. Id. It further provides that Rose “prays for judgment against Defendant Dometic as follows: a) for $154, 578.00 principal, plus interest; b) for collection fees per applicable tariffs; b) [sic] for costs of suit; c) for such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.” Id. The “Exhibit A” to the Complaint, entitled “General Ledger Report, ” contains a list which includes dates, “batch code[s], ” ‘reference[s], ” “description[s], ” and “debt[s].” Dkt. 1-1, at 3. There are no specific references to Dometic in the “General Ledger Report.” Id.

         B. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Before this case was filed in Pierce County, Washington Superior Court, Rose served the Complaint and Summons on the Dometic on December 28, 2018. Dkt. 14-1. On January 10, 2019, Dometic served a “Demand to File Summons and Complaint” on Rose. Dkt. 14-3. Dometic served an Answer on Rose on January 15, 2019, but did not file the Answer in the State case. Dkt. 14-4. The Complaint was filed in superior court on January 22, 2019 and the case was removed to this Court on January 25, 2019. Dkt. 1.

         On March 7, 2019, the same day the instant motion was filed, Dometic filed a “Supplemental Verification of State Court Records” in which it attached “all the pleadings and other papers filed and/or served in the state court action.” Dkt. 10. Attached to this verification, was a pleading entitled “Defendant Dometic Corporation's Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiff's Complaint.” Dkt. 10-1, at 2-5.

         C. PENDING MOTION

         Dometic now moves for a judgment on the pleadings to dismiss the Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (c), arguing that the Complaint contains no theory of relief (e.g. breach of contract) or any facts from which such an obligation could be inferred. Dkt. 12. It asserts that Rose's Complaint does not meet Rule 8's requirements. Id. Rose opposes the motion and argues that the pleadings have not been closed because no answer to the Complaint has been filed. Dkt. 13. Rose further maintains that the Complaint seeks to recover unpaid freight charges owed by Dometic to Rose which have not been paid, and so it meets the minimal pleading requirements of Rule 8. Id. Rose moves for leave to amend the complaint, if the Court finds that the pleading requirements are not met. Id. Dometic replies, and argues that it filed its answer as an attachment to the “Supplemental Verification of State Court Records, ” so asserts that the pleadings are closed. Dkt. 15. It maintains the Complaint should be dismissed with prejudice and without leave to amend. Id.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. STANDARD FOR MOTION TO DISMISS

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), “[a]fter the pleadings are closed--but early enough not to delay trial--a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” “Analysis under Rule 12(c) is substantially identical to analysis under Rule 12(b)(6).” Chavez v. United ...


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