CM Regent Insurance Company a/s/o Montgomery Area School District v. CAMaster, Inc., Civ. No. 4:22-CV-205, 2022 WL 17721589 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 15, 2022)

Simply pleading design and manufacturing defects is not enough to overcome a Rule 12 motion to dismiss.

The plaintiff, a subrogee of a school district, filed a lawsuit sounding in strict liability, negligence, and promissory estoppel against the manufacturer of a dust collection venting system where a fire allegedly originated in one of the district’s high schools. The defendant-manufacturer filed a motion to dismiss the strict liability claim in its entirety for failure to comply with the pleading requirements of Iqbal and Twombly. In particular, the complaint merely asserted the legal conclusions that the product had a design defect and that the product was defectively manufactured. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. 

Regarding the design defect claim, the court opined that the complaint “fail[ed] to allege any specifics as to what constitutes the design defect” and “does not assert that [the product’s] alleged defective design was the proximate cause of the property damage.” Likewise, on the manufacturing defect claim, the complaint “fail[ed] to allege what constitutes the manufacturing defect and fail[ed] to allege that this manufacturing defect [was] a proximate cause of the property damage.”

This case highlights the importance of filing Rule 12 motions when a plaintiff’s complaint contains only threadbare allegations against strict product liability defendants. This is especially true in cases that have been removed to federal court, where the boilerplate allegations in a complaint may have been sufficient under state court pleading requirements.

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2023 is prepared by Marshall Dennehey to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2032 Marshall Dennehey, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.