United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ESTATE OF BYRON BROWN, deceased; PAULETTE HOLLEY, Administrator of the Estate of Byron Brown, deceased; & PHILLIP BROWN, Wrongful Death Beneficiaries, and on behalf of all Wrongful Death Beneficiaries PLAINTIFFS
EDWARD D. MORRISON, individually, & C.A.T., INC. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT
C.A.T., INC.'S MOTION  FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION  TO AMEND
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT are Defendant C.A.T., Inc.'s Motion  for
Judgment on the Pleadings, and Plaintiffs Estate of Byron
Brown, Paulette Holley, and Phillip Brown's Motion 
to Amend. Defendant C.A.T., Inc., admits vicarious liability
for Defendant Edward D. Morrison's acts and seeks
dismissal of Plaintiffs' direct-liability claims for
negligent hiring, training, supervision, retention, and
entrustment asserted against it. In response, Plaintiffs seek
to amend their Complaint to sufficiently plead these claims.
due consideration of the record, Defendant's Motion, and
relevant legal authority, the Court is of the opinion that
Defendant C.A.T., Inc.'s Motion  for Judgment on the
Pleadings should be granted and that Plaintiffs' Motion
 to Amend should be denied as futile. Accordingly, the
Court will dismiss Plaintiffs' direct-liability claims
against Defendant C.A.T., Inc. All other claims will proceed.
case arises out of a fatal auto accident that occurred on
Interstate 10 in Jackson County, Mississippi, on March 22,
2017. Compl. [1-2]. Decedent Byron Brown was driving
eastbound near mile marker 68 when a tractor trailer operated
by Defendant Edward D. Morrison collided with his motorcycle.
Id. It is undisputed that, at the time of the
accident, Defendant Morrison was acting within the course and
scope of his employment with Defendant C.A.T., Inc.
(“C.A.T.”). Id. at 3; Answer  at 3.
April 27, 2018, Plaintiffs Estate of Byron Brown, Paulette
Holley, and Phillip Brown (collectively
“Plaintiffs”) filed suit against Defendants
Edward D. Morrison and C.A.T., Inc. (collectively
“Defendants”) in the Circuit Court of Jackson
County, Mississippi. Compl. [1-2]. The Complaint advances
claims against Defendants for negligence and gross negligence
and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id.
Although the Complaint does not specifically plead any
direct-liability claims against C.A.T., it includes a claim
of vicarious liability and catch-all language seeking to hold
Defendants liable for “other acts of negligence to be
shown at the trial.” Id.
timely removed the case to this Court on grounds of diversity
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and
1446. Notice of Removal . In answering the Complaint,
C.A.T. admitted it was vicariously liable for Defendant
Morrison's actions and filed the instant Motion  for
Judgment on the Pleadings, which requests dismissal of any
direct- and independent-liability claims asserted against it.
Answer  at 3; Mot. . C.A.T. argues that to the extent
the catch-all language Plaintiffs use in their Complaint
[1-2] encompasses any claims for negligent hiring, training,
supervision, retention, or entrustment, those claims should
be dismissed because Mississippi courts have consistently
held that direct-liability claims against an employer are
moot where the employer admits that an employee's acts
occurred within the course and scope of his employment.
Supporting Mem.  at 3-5.
response, Plaintiffs filed a Motion  to Amend seeking to
add claims for negligent hiring, training, supervision,
retention, and entrustment against C.A.T. Mot. ; Proposed
Amend. Compl. [14-1]. Without addressing C.A.T.'s
argument for dismissal, Plaintiffs contend that the Court
should grant their Motion  to Amend because courts
generally allow a party an opportunity to amend to satisfy
federal pleading standards after a case's removal to
federal court. Mot.  to Amend; Supporting Mem. ;
Resp. Mem. . C.A.T. responds that Plaintiffs'
proposed amendments are futile, and reiterates that its
admission of vicarious liability moots Plaintiffs' direct
claims, regardless of how specifically they were pled. Resp.
; Reply . Plaintiffs have not filed a reply in
support of their Motion  to Amend, and the time for doing
so has passed.
Defendant's Motion  for Judgment on the
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) allows a party to move for
judgment on the pleadings after a response has been filed and
the pleadings have closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “A
motion under Rule 12(c) for failure to state a claim is
subject to the same standards as a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6).” In re Great Lakes Dredge & Dock
Co. LLC, 624 F.3d 201, 209-10 (5th Cir. 2010).
survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain
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 Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility 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). “The court's
task is to determine whether the plaintiff has stated a
legally cognizable claim that is plausible, not to evaluate
the plaintiff's likelihood of success.” Lone
Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d
383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010).
deciding whether a complaint states a valid claim for relief,
a court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view
those facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff.
King-White v. Humble Indep. Sch. Dist., 803 F.3d
754, 758 (5th Cir. 2015). However, the Court need not accept
as true “conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual