United States District Court, D. Hawaii
DENIS G. MELLO, Plaintiff,
YOUNG BROTHERS, LTD., et al. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS LEVI C. RITA DBA LAZY L
RANCH, AND SHELBY RIVERA'S MOTION TO DISMISS FIRST
AMENDED COMPLAINT, ECF NO. 42
MICHAEL SEABRIGHT CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Denis G. Mello (“Mello” or
“Plaintiff”) invokes this court's admiralty
jurisdiction after he was injured by a bull (the
“Bull”) that had escaped on Pier 39 in Honolulu
Harbor. Mello alleges that Levi C. Rita dba Lazy L Ranch
(“Rita”) and his employee Shelby Rivera
(“Rivera”) (collectively, the “Ranch
Defendants”) are liable for his injuries as the
consignee of the Bull. He also alleges that either Young
Brothers, Ltd. (“YB”) or Saltchuk Resources, Ltd.
(“Saltchuk”) is liable as possible owners of the
Doe Barge (the “Barge”) that brought the Bull to
Pier 39. Mello has further named the Barge itself as an
before the court is the Ranch Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”) for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. Based on the following, the court GRANTS
the Ranch Defendants' Motion to Dismiss without leave to
claims that on June 15, 2013, the Barge (owned and operated
by “a party or parties yet unknown”) brought the
Bull to Honolulu Harbor. ECF No. 10, FAC ¶¶ 1, 16,
73-77. Rita, a sole proprietor who operates a ranch, was the
consignee of the Bull, id. ¶¶ 24-25, while
Rivera, Rita's employee, was responsible for receiving
and transporting the Bull, id. ¶ 26. Mello
alleges that either YB or Saltchuk was responsible for the
discharge and unloading of the Bull onto the maritime
facilities at Pier 39. Id. ¶¶ 6, 8-9,
or another of Rita's employees, brought a cattle trailer
to the pier to contain and transport the Bull after its
offloading from the Barge. Id. ¶ 59. Plaintiff
alleges that the cattle trailer was broken and that Rita and
Rivera had knowledge of the trailer's defect.
Id. ¶ 60. As a result of the cattle
trailer's broken condition, the Bull escaped from the
trailer. Id. ¶ 65.
was employed by YB as a longshoreman at Honolulu Harbor.
Id. ¶¶ 45-46. After learning that the Bull
had escaped and was running loose on the pier, Mello was
seriously injured by the Bull when he attempted to help keep
the Bull from harming others. Id. ¶¶
47-48. The Bull caused injuries to Mello's head, neck,
lower back, left shoulder, hips, and pelvis. Id.
¶ 49. Mello further claims that he suffered emotional
distress, depression, insomnia, and anxiety as a result of
his encounter with the Bull. Id. Mello subsequently
received workers' compensation benefits under the
Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.
§ 901 et seq. (“LHWCA”) from Signal Mutual
Indemnity Association. Id. ¶¶ 28, 50.
alleges the following claims against all Defendants: (1)
strict liability; (2) general negligence; (3) gross
negligence; (4) negligent infliction of emotional distress;
(5) res ipsa loquitur; (6) punitive damages; and (7)
“damages.” The FAC alleges a claim of
“respondeat superior” against Rita. Finally, the
FAC alleges that the Barge and its owner are liable for
breaching a currently unrecognized “duty to
intervene” under Section 905(b) of the LHWCA, and for
general negligence under that same statute.
asserts the following bases of federal jurisdiction:
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332; admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1333; federal question jurisdiction under 33 U.S.C.
§ 905(b); and supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
24, 2016, the Ranch Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss.
ECF No. 42. Plaintiff filed his Memorandum in Opposition to
the Motion on July 15, 2016. ECF No. 45. On August 23, 2016,
the Ranch Defendants filed their Reply. ECF No. 47. The court
held a hearing on the Motion on October 3, 2016.