United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, AS SUBROGEE OF TAYLOR BOONE AND LAUREL BOONE, PLAINTIFFS
AMAZON.COM, INC. SAMSUNG SDI CO. LTD., JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-10, AND ABC CORPORATIONS 1-10, DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL P. MILLS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on Defendant Amazon.com's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings .
The Court, having reviewed the motion, the parties'
submissions, and applicable authorities, is now prepared to
State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (hereinafter
“State Farm”), as subrogee of Taylor Boone and
Laurel Boone (hereinafter “Boones”), insured the
Boones' family residence in Oxford, Mississippi. In 2015,
the Boones purchased two self-balancing scooters, more
commonly known as hoverboards, from Defendant
Amazon.com's [hereinafter “Amazon”] website.
The first hoverboard was purchased on October 31, 2015, and
the second on November 10, 2015. Both were sold by third
parties, with the transaction facilitated by Amazon.
Boones began using the two hoverboards on or about December
25, 2015. On March 16, 2016, the hoverboards caught fire
inside the Boones' home and destroyed it.
12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not
to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” In a motion for a judgment on the pleadings
“[t]he central issue is whether, in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint states a valid
claim for relief.” Hughes c. Tobacco Inst.,
Inc., 278 F.3d 417, 420 (5th Cir. 2001). Such a motion
“is appropriate only if there are no disputed issues of
fact and only questions of law remain.” Id.
(citing Voest-Alpine Trading USA Corp. v. Bank of
China, 142 F.3d 887, 891 (5th Cir. 1998)). Moreover, in
ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, “the
district court is confined to the pleadings and must accept
all allegations contained therein as true.”
Hughes, 278 F.3d at 420 (citing St. Paul Ins.
Co. v. AFLA Worldwide Ins. Co., 937 F.2d 274, 279 (5th
Cir. 1991)). In considering Rule 12(c) motions the court
relies on the same standard as that of a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Great Plains Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2002).
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) 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,
697, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). A claim is
facially plausible “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. at 678. It is not necessary that
a complaint contain detailed factual allegations, but it must
set forth “more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Colony Ins. Co. v. Peachtree Constr.,
Ltd., 647 F.3d 248, 252 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The Court must liberally
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff and accept all well-pleaded facts as true.
Woodard v. Andrus, 419 F.3d 348, 351 (5th Cir.
argues that this court should grant its motion for judgment
on the pleadings with respect to the Plaintiff's claims
for negligence and negligent failure to warn.
Mississippi Products Liability Act
argues that the Mississippi Products Liability Act (MPLA),
Mississippi Code Annotated § 11-1-63 (Rev. 2014), is
“the most logical source” to determine whether it
is under a product-related duty, and that the MPLA does not
apply in this case because it was neither the seller,
designer nor the manufacturer of the hoverboard. Instead,
Amazon declares itself to be a “service provider,
” as formulated in Palermo v. Lifelink Foundation,
Inc., 152 So.3d 1099 (Miss. 2014) where the Mississippi
Supreme Court found that a non-profit tissue bank was
shielded from strict products liability by statute, and that
the MPLA was inapplicable to service providers because it
does not specify service providers as a named category in the
Act. Id. at 1106. In short, Amazon seems to argue
that since the hoverboards are a “product, ” that
its liability is limited to the parameters of the MPLA, and
that since it is a “service provider, ” that it
is not liable under the MPLA. Under this line of reasoning,
Amazon would have no liability at all.
Farm alleges in its second amended complaint (hereinafter
“complaint”) that Amazon acted as a
“marketplace” (Comp. ¶ 30) and that common
law claims of negligence and failure-to-warn apply rather
than MPLA claims.
relevant code section of the MPLA states:
In any action alleging that a product is defective because it
failed to contain adequate warnings or instructions pursuant
to paragraph (a)(i)2 of this section, the manufacturer,
designer or seller shall not be liable if the claimant does
not prove by the preponderance of the evidence that at the
time the product left the control of the manufacturer,
designer or seller, the manufacturer, designer or seller knew
or in light of reasonably available knowledge should have
known about the danger that ...