Plaintiff’s Failure to Assert Elements for Fraudulent Misrepresentation Leads to Dismissal for Friction Defendants U.S. District Court, M.D. North Carolina, July 23, 2018
NORTH CAROLINA — The plaintiff filed suit against 62 defendants including Ford Motor (Ford) and Hennessey Industries (Hennessey) alleging he was injured as a result of exposure to the defendant’s asbestos containing products or equipment. Ford and Hennessey moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims for fraud and fraudulent misrepresentation arguing that the plaintiff failed to state a claim with respect to those allegations. The plaintiff sought leave to amend his complaint and amended the complaint after the court permitted a more definite statement. Ford and Hennessy renewed their motions.
Out the outset, the court noted that it would grant a motion to dismiss on failure to state a claim when “the complaint does not contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Additionally, the plaintiff is required to plead claims of fraud with particularity. Here, the plaintiff’s claim for fraud alleged that “defendants falsely represented facts, including the dangers of asbestos exposure, to the plaintiff.” Once the more definite statement was filed, the plaintiff included that Ford knew of the dangers associated with asbestos exposure and that such exposure caused mesothelioma. As to Hennessey, the plaintiff alleged that Hennessey was aware of the dangers associated with its grinder equipment but failed to warn the end user. The plaintiff argued that under the Breeden case, the defendants had a duty to disclose defects where an “at arms-length transaction had occurred.” The court quickly concluded that the allegations did not rise to the level of “an affirmative claim for fraudulent misrepresentation.” The court found that there was no “at arms-length” transaction or fiduciary relationship between the defendants with the plaintiff. Specifically the Burnett matter had previously determined that no such relationship between an asbestos manufacturer and the “plaintiff whose work involved the use of asbestos containing products” existed.
Consequently, the renewed motions to dismiss were recommended to be granted.