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Myles v. Dominos Pizza, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

January 19, 2017

DIANA D. MYLES, Individually And As Administrator Of The Estate of Johnny Lee Myles And For And On Behalf Of All Other Parties Entitled To Recover For The Wrongful Death Of Johnny Lee Myles, Deceased PLAINTIFF
v.
DOMINO'S PIZZA, LLC, A Foreign Corporation; and WAYMOND JAMES, An Individual DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This automobile collision case is before the Court on the joint motions of Domino's Pizza, LLC, and Waymond James (1) to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Doc. #67; and (2) for partial summary judgment, Doc. #50; Doc. #69. Because Diana Myles lacks statutory standing to pursue this wrongful death action, the motion to dismiss will be granted and the motions for partial summary judgment will be denied as moot.

         I

         Procedural History

         A. Chancery Court Proceedings

         On January 7, 2013, Diana Myles filed in the Chancery Court of Bolivar County, Mississippi, a “Petition for Appointment of Administratrix and for Issuance of Letters of Administration.” Doc. #72-1 at 1. The petition represented that Diana[1] was the widow of the decedent Johnny Lee Myles, who passed away in an automobile accident on December 30, 2012. Id. The petition listed five children and declared “that the principal asset of the estate is a chose in action for the wrongful death of the decedent.” Id. at 2-3.

         On January 9, 2013, the Chancery Court appointed Diana as Administratrix. Doc. #68-1 at 12-13. The following day, Diana filed a “Petition for Determination of Heirs at Law and Wrongful Death Beneficiaries.” Doc. #72-2 at 1. This petition sought to designate as heirs and wrongful death beneficiaries: (1) Diana, as wife; (2) Johnnie Carmicle, as a son; (3) Ketrick Douglas, as a son; (4) Amesha Myles, as a daughter; (5) Kaquisha Myles, as a daughter; and (6) Shaunessia Douglas, as a daughter. Id. at 2. On February 21, 2013, the Chancery Court determined the persons listed in the January 10 petition to be Johnny's “sole and only heirs at law ... and his sole and only statutory wrongful death beneficiaries ....” Doc. #72-3.

         B. Filing of This Action

         On July 28, 2014, Diana filed a complaint in this Court “Individually And As Administrator Of The Estate Of Johnny Lee Myles And For And On Behalf Of All Other Parties Entitled To Recover For The Wrongful Death Of Johnny Lee Myles, Deceased.” Doc. #1. The complaint sought recovery from Waymond James and Domino's Pizza, LLC (“Domino's”), for the injury and death suffered by Johnny when a vehicle driven by him collided with a commercial vehicle owned by Domino's and driven by James. Id.

         On September 2, 2014, Domino's filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint. Doc. #4. On September 22, 2014, Diana filed an amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B). Doc. #7. Diana's amended complaint asserted a negligence claim against James for his role in the collision and multiple claims against Domino's based on its alleged oversight and control of James and his vehicle. Id.

         On October 5, 2014, Domino's filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, Doc. #9; and on October 17, 2014, Diana responded in opposition, Doc. #11. On October 29, 2014, James filed a “Notice of Joinder, ” purporting to join and adopt the motion to dismiss the amended complaint. Doc. #22.

         On May 5, 2015, this Court entered an order: (1) denying the motion to dismiss the original complaint as moot; (2) finding James' joinder to be untimely; and (3) granting in part and denying in part Domino's motion to dismiss the amended complaint. Doc. #30. The Court, noting that “neither Domino's memorandum nor the motion to dismiss itself addresses any claims other than conspiracy and aiding and abetting, ” dismissed for failure to state a claim the claims for conspiracy and aiding and abetting but denied the motion in all other respects. Id. at 4, 9.

         C. Discovery and Dispositive Motions

         After the Court's disposition of the motion to dismiss, the parties engaged in a period of discovery during which Diana, in a May 12, 2016, deposition, testified that she and Johnny were married at the courthouse in Helena, Arkansas, on November 25, 1995, [2] before a state court judge named Don Gentry. Doc. #68-1 at 20-21.

         On May 19, 2016, Domino's and James filed a motion for partial summary judgment. Doc. #50. With leave of the Court, Diana filed a second amended complaint on July 5, 2016.[3]Doc. #62. The second amended complaint, like the previous two complaints filed in this action, purports to be brought by Diana “Individually And As Administrator Of The Estate Of Johnny Lee Myles And For And On Behalf Of All Other Parties Entitled To Recover For The Wrongful Death Of Johnny Lee Myles, Deceased.” Id.

         On September 13, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. #67. The motion and accompanying memorandum argue that, contrary to her testimony, Diana was never married to Johnny. Id; Doc. #68. Six days later, the defendants filed a second motion for partial summary judgment. Doc. #69. Diana responded to the motion to dismiss on September 30, 2016, and to the second motion for partial summary judgment on October 7, 2016. Doc. #71; Doc. #73. The defendants replied in support of their motion to dismiss on October 7, 2016, and in support of their second motion for partial summary judgment on October 13, 2016. Doc. #75; Doc. #76.

         II

         Applicable Standard

         In seeking dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the defendants, citing depositions and other evidence, argue that Diana lacks standing to pursue this action.

         A. Federal ...


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