United States District Court, D. Hawaii
LUCAS PARRISH; MELINA PARRISH, Individually and as prochien ami for minor Children E.L.P., born in 2002; and E.D.P., born in 2002, Plaintiffs,
JCI JONES CHEMICALS, INC., a for profit New York Corporation; JOHN DOES 1-10; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-10; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; and DOE ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT JCI JONES CHEMICALS,
INC.'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
A. OTAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant JCI Jones Chemicals, Inc.'s Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings filed October 15, 2018. Doc.
No. 62. Plaintiffs Lucas and Melina Parrish filed their
response and opposition on January 25, 2019. Doc. No. 100.
The Motion was heard on February 15, 2019. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion.
action arises from Plaintiff Lucas Parrish's alleged
exposure to hazardous chemicals at a Hilo facility run by his
employer, BEI Hawaii. Doc. No. 1, Ex. A at ¶¶
26-34. In and prior to September 2016, Defendant supplied
chlorine cylinders and salvage vessels to the BEI Hawaii
facility. Id. at ¶ 23-24. On September 22,
2016, a leak was discovered in one of the chlorine cylinders.
Id. at ¶ 26. The cylinder was placed in a
salvage vessel, but the salvage vessel also had a leak.
Id. at ¶ 27-28. Hazardous materials personnel
employed by the County of Hawai‘i and State of
Hawai‘i responded to the leak and instructed the
facility to place the salvage vessel and cylinder in a tub of
water. Id. at ¶ 29. On the morning of September
23, 2016, more chlorine leaked from the cylinder than what
the water could absorb, and high levels of chlorine entered
the facility's environment. Id. at ¶ 33.
Plaintiff Lucas Parrish arrived at work that morning and was
exposed to high amounts of chlorine gas, which he alleges
severely and permanently damaged his lungs. Id.
August 22, 2017, Plaintiffs initiated this action in the
Circuit Court of the Third Circuit, State of Hawai‘i,
asserting negligence (Count I) and strict liability (Count
II) claims against Defendant. Doc. No. 1, Ex. A. Defendant
removed the action on the basis of diversity jurisdiction on
October 13, 2017. In its answer, Defendant alleges that the
Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (“HMTA”),
49 U.S.C. § 5101-5128, and the Hazardous Materials
Regulations (“HMR”), 49 C.F.R. Parts 171-179,
preempted Plaintiffs' state-law claims. Id. at
October 15, 2018, Defendant filed the instant Motion. Doc.
No. 62. Magistrate Judge Puglisi granted in part
Plaintiffs' request to file an amended complaint, Doc.
No. 77, and Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on November
26, 2018, Doc. No. 80. Defendant thereafter filed its Answer,
again asserting that Plaintiffs' claims were preempted by
the HMTA and HMR. Doc. No. 85 at ¶ 68.
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(“FRCP”) states, “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). The
standard governing the Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the
pleadings is the same as that governing a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss. Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine,
Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989); see also
McGlinchy v. Shell Chemical Co., 845 F.2d 802, 810 (9th
Cir. 1988). Accordingly, “[a] judgment on the pleadings
is properly granted when, taking all allegations in the
pleading as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Enron Oil Trading & Transp.
Co. v. Walbrook Ins. Co., 132 F.3d 526, 528 (9th Cir.
1997) (citing McGann v. Ernst & Young, 102 F.3d
390, 392 (9th Cir. 1996)).
a motion to dismiss, a claim may survive a motion for
judgment on the pleadings if the complaint “contain[s]
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Facial plausibility exists “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although a court must
accept as true all allegations contained in the complaint,
this obligation does not extend to legal conclusions.
Id. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do
not suffice.” Id. (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Id.
(citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Id. at
679 (citing Fed. Sprewell, 266 F.3dR. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)) (some
alterations in original).
Rule 12(b)(6), review is ordinarily limited to the contents
of the complaint. Marder v. Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 448
(9th Cir. 2006); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors,
266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001); Campanelli v.
Bockrath, 100 F.3d 1476, 1479 (9th Cir. 1996). A
12(b)(6) motion is treated as a motion for summary judgment
if matters outside the pleadings are considered. Anderson
v. Angelone, 86 F.3d 932, 934 (9th Cir. 1996).
determine whether Plaintiffs' claims are preempted by the
HMTA and HMR, the Court must determine whether the claims
fall within the domain of § 5125(b)(1), the HMTA's
express preemption clause. See Roth v. Norfalco LLC,
651 F.3d 367, 376 (3d Cir. 2011). To do this, the Court must
first analyze the text of the preemption clause and determine
its scope. Id. Next, the Court must “identify
the contours of the non-federal law, regulation, order, or
requirement at issue in the case.” Id. The
Court “must [then] ascertain (1) whether §
5125(b)(1) applies to the non-federal law, regulation, order,
or requirement  identified, and (2) whether the non-federal
requirement is ‘substantively the same as' the
conditions imposed by federal hazardous materials law.”
Id. If the non-federal requirement is substantively
the same as the federal law, then the claims are not
preempted. See id.
moves for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the
state-law duties that Plaintiffs seek to impose on Defendant
are expressly preempted by the HMTA. Plaintiffs oppose the
Motion, arguing that (1) the requirements at issue are beyond
the HMTA's domain, (2) the state-law requirements
Plaintiffs seek to impose on Defendant are substantially the
same as the HMTA's requirements, and (3) the HMTA does
not extend to “end users” such as Mr. Parrish.
argues that the HMTA's preemption provision expressly
preempts the imposition of state-law duties related to the
packaging, distribution, handling, transporting and labeling
of chlorine. Plaintiffs argue that the duties at issue in
their Amended Complaint are beyond the HMTA's domain.
Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution states
that the Constitution, the laws of the United States, and all
Treaties “shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”
Art. VI cl. 2. Under the Supremacy Clause, “state laws
that interfere with, or are contrary to the laws of
[C]ongress, made in pursuance to the [C]onstitution are
invalid.” Wis. Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, 501
U.S. 597, 604 (1991) (internal citation omitted).
“Federal preemption may be express or implied.”
Donell v. Kowell, 533 F.3d 762, 775 (9th Cir. 2008).
When Congress has included a provision explicitly addressing
preemption, the preemptive scope of the statute “is
governed entirely by the express language.”
Congress Cipollone v. Liggett Grp., Inc., 505 U.S.
must analyze the language of an express preemption provision
to “identify the domain expressly pre-empted” by
the provision. Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S.
470, 484 (1996) (internal quotation omitted). Assessment of
an express preemption provision's domain “must
begin with its text . . . . [T]hat interpretation is informed
by two presumptions about the nature of pre-emption.”
Id. at 484-85. The first presumption is that
“the purpose of Congress is the ultimate touchstone in
every pre-emption case, ” and the second is that
“the historic police powers of the States [are] not to
be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear
and manifest purpose of Congress.” Wyeth v.
Levine, 555 U.S. 555, 565 (2009) (internal citation and
quotation omitted). However, “[w]here the intent of a
statutory provision that speaks expressly to the question of
preemption is at issue, [courts] do not invoke any