United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
ELIZABETH FINLEY, Individually and on behalf of the Estate and Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Thomas Finley, Jr., Deceased PLAINTIFF
DAVID DYER, et al. DEFENDANTS
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
personal injury action is before the Court on Cornerstone
Systems, Inc.'s motion for judgment on the pleadings.
January 2, 2018, Elizabeth Finley, acting individually and on
behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Thomas Finley,
Jr., filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Marshall
County, Mississippi, naming as defendants David Dyer, Jamac
Logistics, LLC, Cornerstone Systems, Inc., RG Logistics, LLC,
COFC Logistics, LLC, Interpool, Inc. d/b/a Trac Intermodal,
and “John Does 1-10.” Doc. #2 at 1, 10. The
complaint alleged that Thomas died when the car he was driving
was struck by a freightliner “owned by Intermodal with
the freight being brokered and/or shipped through RG,
Cornerstone and/or COFC through a joint venture with
Jamac.” Id. at 1, 3. Of relevance here, the
complaint asserted two claims against Cornerstone: a claim
for negligent hiring, and a claim for negligent entrustment.
Id. at 7-8. Additionally, while not asserted as a
separate count, the complaint alleged:
Dyer was, at all times pertinent to this action, an agent,
employee, and/or servant of Jamac and/or Cornerstone, RG,
COFC, Interpool and John Doe Defendants 1 through 10.
Therefore, Jamac and/or Cornerstone, RG, COFC, Interpool and
John Doe Defendants 1 through 10, are liable for Dyer's
acts under the doctrine of respondeat superior.
Id. at 4.
state court action was removed to this Court on April 2,
2018,  and the defendants subsequently filed
separate answers. Docs. #7, #12, #14, #15, #16. On June 19,
2018, Cornerstone filed a motion for judgment on the
pleadings. Doc. #22. With leave of the Court, on July 19,
2018, Elizabeth filed an amended complaint which contains the
same substantive allegations but substitutes “RGL,
Inc.” as a defendant in place of RG
Logistics. See Doc. #41 at 1. After filing
the amended complaint, Elizabeth responded to the motion for
judgment on the pleadings on July 27, 2018. Doc. #51.
Cornerstone replied on August 3, 2018. Doc. #57.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) authorizes a party to move for
judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are
closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” A motion
for judgment on the pleadings “may dispose of a case
when there are no disputed material facts and the court can
render a judgment on the merits based on the substance of the
pleadings and any judicially noticed facts.”
Linicomm v. Hill, 902 F.3d 529, 533 (5th Cir. 2018)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “To avoid
dismissal, a plaintiff must plead sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted). In making this determination, a
court “must construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Id.
unknown time, Cornerstone, acting as a broker, contracted
with Jamac, its independent contractor, to serve as a motor
carrier and transport certain freight hauled by Jamac
pursuant to a Broker-Drayage Intermodal Agreement. Doc. #61
at ¶ 36; Doc. #41 at ¶ 36. Jamac, in turn, retained
Dyer to drive the goods. Doc. #41 at ¶¶ 28-34.
While transporting the freight, Elizabeth alleges that Dyer
negligently crossed the median and struck Thomas' car,
killing him. Id. at ¶¶ 13-17.
motion, Cornerstone argues that it is entitled to dismissal
of the negligent entrustment and negligent hiring claims
because such claims are preempted by the Federal Aviation
Administration Authorization Act of 1994
the federal Constitution, both the National and State
Governments have elements of sovereignty the other is bound
to respect.” City of El Cenizo v. Texas, 890
F.3d 164, 176 (5th Cir. 2018) (quotation marks omitted).
However, the Supremacy Clause of the federal Constitution
makes clear that federal laws “shall be the supreme Law
of the Land.” U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2. Consistent
with this dictate, “Congress may preempt state
legislation by enacting a statute containing an express
preemption provision.” City of El Cenizo, 890
F.3d at 176. Absent express preemptive language, the United
States Supreme Court has “recognized at least two types
of implied pre-emption: field pre-emption, where the scheme
of federal regulation is so pervasive as to make reasonable
the inference that Congress left no room for the States to
supplement it, ” and “conflict pre-emption, where
compliance with both federal and state regulations is a