The Plaintiff Who Didn’t Watch Breaking Bad

Egger v. United States of America, No. EP-13-CV-34-KC, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Dec. 23, 2013)(Cardone, J.)

Egger alleged that her car was damaged when a DEA agent backed into it.  Slip op. at 1.  When the DEA offered $100, Egger sued the DEA agent in small claims/justice court.  Id.  The agent removed the case to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1442, then the government moved to substitute itself for the DEA agent under the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-80.  Id. at 2.  Shortly after the District Court granted that motion, the government moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) on the grounds that Egger’s failure to exhaust her administrative remedies deprived the District Court of jurisdiction.  Id. at 2-3.  The District Court noted that the $100 the DEA offered was not a final denial of her claim and that the FTCA’s six-month waiting period for suit had not expired when Egger’s sued.  Id. at 3-5.  Therefore, under 28 U.S.C. § 2675(a), the District Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the case under Rule 12(b)(1).

Slip-and-Fall Claims Teeter on Rule 12(b)(6) Dismissal

Torres v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Inc., No. EP-13-CV-187-KC, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Nov. 22, 2013)(Cardone, J.)

The issue before the District Court was whether a viable claim had been asserted against the Hobby Lobby store manager in this slip-and-fall case.  The District Court noted that an individual is not personally liable for negligence when acting as an agent or employee for a corporation in the absence of an independent duty to the injured party separate and “apart from the employer’s duty.”  Slip op. at 6.  The District Court rejected the plaintiff’s strained effort to demonstrate such a duty.  Id. at 6-15.  But it found that affording the plaintiff a chance to amend would not be futile and set a deadline by which she could attempt to amend.  Id. at 15-17.

Judge Cardone Disposes of Foreclosure Case by Rule 12(b)(6) Dismissal

Crucci v. Seterus, Inc., No. EP-13-CV-317-KC, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Nov. 21, 2013)(Cardone, J.)

The property owners in this foreclosure litigation obtained a temporary restraining order from a state court then defendants removed the case and filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.  Slip op. at 1-2.  Three weeks later, the property owners had failed to file a response and the District Court rejected their stock foreclosure claims—lack of proper notice under section 51.002 of the Texas Property Code and deed of trust, lack of an assignment to the mortgage servicer conducting the foreclosure, and breach of contract.  Id. at 3-10.  The District Court noted that a 12(b)(6) dismissal ordinarily affords the plaintiff an opportunity to amend.  But that general rule does not apply when the plaintiff has pleaded his “best case.”  The District Court presumed the property owners had given their best shot at the complaint based on their failure to respond and denied them any window in which to file an amended complaint.  Id. at 13-14.