United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss. ECF No. 3. For the reasons specified herein,
Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.
filed the present Complaint in Wayne County, West Virginia on
October 10, 2017. ECF No. 1. Defendant removed the case to
this Court on November 15, 2017 based on diversity
jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. Defendant then filed the present
Motion to Dismiss on November 16, 2017, in which it claims
that Plaintiff's claims are barred by the relevant
statute of limitations and that Plaintiff has no legal
standing to bring his claims. ECF No. 3. Plaintiff did not
respond to Defendant's Motion.
Standard of Review
deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must “accept[ ]
all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's complaint
as true and draw[ ] all reasonable factual inferences from
those facts in the plaintiff's favor.” Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999).
The plaintiff's allegations, however, “must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A defendant is entitled to dismissal if
the plaintiff has failed to state “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. at 547.
Complaint does not make clear whether he brings this action
in negligence or in contract. While Count I of the Complaint
alleges that Defendant was negligent in maintaining the
crossing, Plaintiff seems to also plead a breach of contract
case in the Complaint. ECF No. 1-2. Reading the Complaint in
a light most favorable to Plaintiff, as is required at this
stage in the proceedings, the Court will consider
Plaintiff's claims pursuant to both legal theories in
addressing Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
Action in Negligence
Court's jurisdiction over this matter is grounded in
diversity. As such, the Erie doctrine prescribes
that West Virginia state law is to be used to determine
matters as they pertain to statutes of limitations.
Patrick v. Sharon Steel Corp., 549 F.Supp. 1259,
1263 (N.D.W.Va. 1982) (citing Erie R.R. Co. v.
Tompkins, 302 U.S. 64, 72 (1938) (“Except in
matters governed by the Federal Constitution or by acts of
Congress, the law to be applied in any case is the law of the
state.”). In West Virginia, “claims in tort for
negligence . . . are governed by a two-year statute of
limitation.” Trafalgar House Const., Inc. v. ZMM,
Inc., 567 S.E.2d 294, 299 (W.Va. 2002); W.Va. Code
§ 55-2-12 (1959).
Complaint, Plaintiff claims that Defendant negligently failed
to maintain a railroad crossing on the property in question
and that, as a result, a structure on that property burned on
December 24, 2011. ECF No. 1-2. Plaintiff did not file his
Complaint in state court until October 2017, nearly six years
after he suffered the alleged losses. To the extent Plaintiff
pleads an action in negligence, then, Plaintiff's claims
are clearly barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
Accordingly, as to any negligence claim brought in
Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
Action in Contract
does not, however, dispose of all of Plaintiff's claims
at this time. The Court will also analyze Plaintiff's
case as it pertains to relevant contract law. The applicable
statute of limitations for cases brought in contract is
substantially longer than that controlling claims of
negligence. In West Virginia, an action to recover for breach
of a written contract must be brought within ten years after
the right to bring the action accrues. W.Va. Code §
55-2-6 (1923). The Court does not reach the issue of claim
accrual at this time, however, because, as explained below,
the Court finds that Plaintiff has failed to show proper
standing to bring his case in contract.
Constitution requires that a plaintiff must have legal
standing in order for a court to properly hear his case.
Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560
(1992). Standing has three requirements. Id. First,
the plaintiff must have suffered an “injury in fact,
” meaning he must have suffered “an invasion of a
legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and
particularized, and (b) actual or imminent . . .”
Id. Second, the plaintiff must show a causal
connection between the injury and the complained-of conduct.
Id. Finally, ...