Lemley v. Red Bull, No. 4:2017cv00033 - Document 23 (S.D. Ga. 2017)

Court Description: ORDER denying Red Bull, Inc.'s 12 Motion to Dismiss. Per this Court's previous order, 15 , Red Bull Inc. has 14 days from today's Order to file its answer. Signed by Judge Lisa G. Wood on 5/16/2017. (ca)
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Lemley v. Red Bull Doc. 23 ^rnteb ^toteies Bisitrtct Contt for tfie ^ottfi^ertt BifiCtnct of <(leorgta ^oliantiali Bttiifiiton FILED Scott L. Poff, Clerk United States District Court By casbell at 8:26 am, May 16, 2017 ANN EDENFIELD LEMLEY, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of WILLIAM JACOB WADE, Deceased, Plaintiff, No. 4:17-CV-33 V. RED BULL NORTH AMERICA, INC., Defendant. ORDER Before the Court in this products liability and wrongful death case is Defendant Red Bull North America, Inc.'s Bull, Inc.") Motion to Dismiss, dkt. no. 12. {''Red For the reasons stated below, it is DENIED. FACTUAL BACKGROUND The Court assumes the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Red Bull, Inc. designed, manufactured, tested, marketed, and distributed the famous energy drink "Red Bull." contains caffeine and taurine. Dkt. No. 1 SI 2. Id. SI 31. Red Red Bull Bull, Inc. markets Red Bull as "provid[ing] benefits to consumers in that A0 72A (Rev. 8/82) Dockets.Justia.com it Ogives [them] wings' resulting in increased physical and/or mental performance." drinks Id. 5 25. Red Bull and similar energy have been the subject of media, legal, and medical scrutiny for their supposed role in heart problems—some fatal. Id. M 10-23. Decedent William Jacob Wade started drinking four twelve- ounce cans of Red Bull a day beginning in 2009. Id. SI 6. He did so on August 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM, then again the next morning. Id. Id. SI 7. Thereafter, he was found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead due to aortic dissection at 2:00 PM on August 8, 2014. Plaintiff Ann February 23, 2017. design defect and Id. SISI 7-8. Edenfield Lemley Dkt. No. 1. failure filed this suit on She alleged strict-liability to warn; negligent design, manufacture, and sale; negligent failure to warn; fraud; and wrongful death. See generally id. Red Bull, Inc. moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim on March 24, 2017. Dkt. No. 12. briefed and ripe for decision. The motion is fully Dkt. Nos. 12-1, 18, 20. LEGAL STANDARD A complaint must be ^^a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). It must go beyond ^'labels Fed. and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." 555 (2007). Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, It has to ''contain inferential allegations from which [the court] can identify each of the material elements necessary to theory." Roe v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.Sd 678, (11th 684 sustain Cir. a recovery 2001). under "Factual some viable allegations legal must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . ." across Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. the threshold from They must send a case possibility to plausibility. Ashcroft V. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). DISCUSSION Red Bull, Inc.'s motion to dismiss will be denied. Bull, Inc.'s shotgun only pleading arguments and it does are not that the complaint adequately plead Red is a fraud. Neither contention succeeds. I. THE COMPLAINT IS NOT A SHOTGUN PLEADING. Red Bull, Inc. unpersuasively characterizes the complaint as an improper shotgun pleading. Dkt. No. 12-1 at 8-9. Specifically, Red Bull, Inc. says the complaint improperly has each count "incorporate[ ] by reference all preceding and all subsequent paragraphs." Id. at 8; see also Dkt. No. 20 at 5. That accusation does line up with one of the four species of shotgun pleadings recently recognized by the Eleventh Circuit. Weiland v. Palm Beach Cty. Sheriff^ s Office, 792 F.Sd 1313, 1321 (llth Cir. 2015). But it misses what is actually wrong with a shotgun pleading—that such a complaint ''fail[s] to one degree or another, and in one way or another, to give the defendant[ ] adequate notice of the claims against [it] and the grounds upon which each claim rests." Id. at 1323. Here, the complaint just ^^provides a detailed factual background, and then reincorporates that background . . . into each count. The allegations respond," and counts. are they not are so vague ^'properly that Defendants separated" into cannot different Homonai v. City of Fruitland Park, No. 5:16-CV-610, 2017 WL 1495806, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 26, 2017). complaint is not a shotgun pleading. Thus, the See id.; Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(c) (""A statement in a pleading may be adopted by reference elsewhere in the same pleading . . . ."); Wright & Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1326 (3d ed.) connection with one count, defense, (''Facts alleged in or paragraph may be incorporated by reference in a different count, defense, or paragraph of the same pleading. . . . When the pleader asserts several factual claims for pattern, unnecessary relief or defenses incorporation repetition of the by that rest reference transactions on a common eliminates and which the pleader relies." (footnotes omitted)). events any upon II. THE FRAUD CLAIM IS ADEQUATELY PLED. Lemley's fraud claim satisfies the heightened pleading standards for fraud. ordinary and As to the ordinary standard, fraud has five elements: (1) that the defendant made representations; (2) that at the time he knew they were false; (3) that he made them with the intention and purpose of deceiving the plaintiff; (4) that the plaintiff relied on the representations; and (5) that the plaintiff sustained the alleged loss and damage as the proximate result of their having been made. Bacote v. Wyckoff, 310 S.E.2d 520, 523 (Ga. 1984); see also Dasher v. Davis, 618 S.E.2d 728, 730 {Ga. Ct. App. 2005) (identifying omissions as a way of satisfying first element). The complaint here alleges that: (1) Red Bull, Inc. kept silent regarding health risks posed by Red Bull; (2) Red Bull, Inc. actually or constructively knew of such risks; (3) Red Bull, Inc. kept silent about the risks to induce Wade and other customers to buy and drink Red Bull; (4) Wade relied on Red Bull, Inc. to disclose health risks associated with Red Bull; and (5) Wade died because as a proximate result of Red Bull, Inc.'s silence. Dkt. No. 1 SISI 75, 77-81. The complaint adequately pleads fraud under the ordinary standard. It imposed also by satisfies Federal Rule the of requires the complaint to state heightened Civil pleading Procedure standard 9(b), which (1) precisely what . . . omissions were made, and (2) the time and place of each such statement and the person responsible for . . . not making[] same, and (3) the content of such statements and the manner in which they misled the plaintiff, and (4) what the defendants obtained as a consequence of the fraud. Ziemba v. Cascade Int^l, Inc., 256 F.3d 1194, 1202 (11th Cir. 2001) (quoting Brooks v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1371 (11th Cir. 1997)) (quotation omitted in original). Here, the complaint alleges that Red Bull, Inc.: (1) kept silent as to facts regarding health risks posed by Red Bull; (2) it did so between 2009 and August 7, 2014, the period when Wade regularly drank four Red Bull cans a day; (3) Wade was misled into thinking Red Bull was not associated with potential health risks; and (4) Red Bull, Inc. got Wade to drink about four cans of Red Bull a day for about five years as a consequence. Dkt. No. 1 6-7, 75, 79-80. This pleading is adequate under Rule 9(b). CONCLUSION For the reasons above. Red Dismiss, dkt. no. 12, is DENIED. Bull, Inc.'s Motion to Per this Court's previous order, dkt. no. 15, Red Bull, Inc. has 14 days from today's Order to file its answer.^ ^ Accordingly, Lemley's request that default judgment be entered against Red Bull, Inc. is DENIED. so ORDERED, this 16th day of May, 2017. LISA GODBEY WO(»D, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN A0 72A (Rev. 8/82) DISTRICT OF GEORGIA