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Mello v. Young Brothers, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

October 4, 2016

DENIS G. MELLO, Plaintiff,
v.
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

          J. MICHAEL SEABRIGHT CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In this 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 additional Defendant.

         Currently before the court is the Ranch Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.[1] Based on the following, the court GRANTS the Ranch Defendants' Motion to Dismiss without leave to amend.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Mello 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, 56-58.

         Rivera, 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.

         Mello 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.

         B. Procedural Background

         The FAC 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.

         The FAC asserts the following bases of federal jurisdiction: diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332;[2] 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. § 1367(a).

         On June 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.

         III. STAN ...


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