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Day v. Grey

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 31, 2019

ROY A. DAY, Plaintiff,
v.
LORNA R. GREY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         One set of defendants move to dismiss plaintiff's personal injury action on res judicata grounds, alleging that in 2016, a state court dismissed with prejudice a sufficiently similar action, involving identical parties and the same motor vehicle accident. The Court concludes that this claim is precluded under the doctrine of res judicata and grants the defendants' motions. The other defendant moves to dismiss the plaintiff's contractual and fraud claims because the plaintiff failed to allege a provision of the contract that it breached and because the contract's silence does not amount to fraud. The Court agrees with the defendant and dismisses the contractual and fraud claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 7, 2016, Roy A. Day, proceeding pro se, filed suit against Lorna and Kenneth Grey (the Greys), GEICO General Insurance Company (GEICO), and 21st Century Centennial Insurance Company (21st Century) in Cumberland County Superior Court. Mot. to Dismiss, Attach 2, Ex. 2 at 1 (ECF No 32) (Compl. in State Action). In his state court Complaint, Mr. Day alleged “negligence (with an overlay of fraud), ” and claimed that he suffered damages from a motor vehicle accident involving the Greys that “arose out of a[] vehicle accident which occurred on April 29, 2016, in Pasco County, Florida, ” that the accident took place “in the Hudson Library parking lot, ” and that the vehicles involved were his “2015 Chevrolet Spark” and the Greys' motor vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 1-8. In his state court Complaint, Mr. Day alleged that one of the Greys “was driving a vehicle in a willful, intentional, malicious, and cunning, deceptive, and misleading (fraudulent) conduct at a high rate of speed. . . with a fit of rage to willfully, intentionally, and maliciously cause damage to specific vehicles as a target.” Id. ¶ 7. He also alleged that 21st Century insured his motor vehicle and that GEICO insured the Greys' motor vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 1, 2.

         The Greys and GEICO moved to dismiss Mr. Day's Complaint pursuant to Maine Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] Id., Attach. 3, Ex. 3 (ECF No. 32-3) (Mot. to Dismiss in State Action). On July 11, 2017, [2] Superior Court Justice Lance Walker granted the Defendants' motion and ordered “that all of the Plaintiff's claims as against Defendants Lorna Grey, Kenneth Grey, and GEICO General Insurance Company are Dismissed with Prejudice.” Id., Attach 4, Ex. 4 (ECF No. 32-4) (Order in State Action).[3] On March 15, 2018, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgments against Mr. Day. Day v. Grey, Law Court Docket No. Mem. 18-18 (Mar. 15, 2018).

         Meanwhile, on June 3, 2016, Mr. Day filed suit in this Court against the same parties, again alleging that on April 29, 2016, the Greys deliberately drove their car into his, which was parked in a library parking lot in Florida, causing him pain and suffering as well as economic loss. See generally Compl. ¶¶ 1-34 (ECF No. 1); Day v. Grey, (Day I) No. 2:16-cv-00275-JAW (D. Me.) (Compl. in Day I). He also alleged claims against 21st Century, the insurer of his vehicle at the time of the accident, for breach of contract and fraud, alleging that they did not state with specificity in his contract that they do not allow “direct billing” from the rental car company from whom he rented a vehicle only from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, causing him to suffer “severe emotional distress.” Compl. at 14. This time, he invoked diversity jurisdiction, stating that he resides in Florida, that the Greys reside in Maine, that GEICO is a Washington, D.C., corporation, and that 21st Century is a Delaware corporation; he sought damages in a sum exceeding the jurisdictional amount. See id. ¶¶ 1-5, 28.

         On July 28, 2017, the Court dismissed Day I without prejudice, see J. of Dismissal (ECF No. 28), after Mr. Day “failed to comply with the Court's orders requiring him to supply the Clerk's Office with the names and addresses of the Defendants for service of the summons and complaint, ” as well as choosing “a state forum as a ‘more compatible court' to proceed with this same lawsuit” and electing “to cast aspersions against the judges of this Court rather than comply with their orders[.]” Order on Mot. to Stay and Affirming Dismissal of Compl. at 1-8 (ECF No. 27).

         On July 31, 2017, the very next business day, Mr. Day initiated this suit (Day II) against the Greys, GEICO, and 21st Century by filing an amended version of his Day I Complaint. Compl. (ECF No. 1). The claims and facts in the Day II Complaint are identical to the claims and facts in the state court action, as is the type of relief sought. Compare id., with Compl. in State Action. The only relevant difference is that in the federal complaint, Mr. Day alleges facts to establish diversity jurisdiction and requests higher damages, Compl. at 1-11; in the state court action, Mr. Day, with the federal jurisdictional limit in mind, capped his damages at $74, 000. Compl. in State Action at 1, 3, 6 (“Accordingly, with each and all damages, as requested in each specific Count (Count One through Count Four), set at $74, 000. (Seventy-Four Thousand Dollars), the State Court of Maine has competent jurisdiction of the instant Complaint, and NOT Federal Court”).

         On August 19, 2017, the Mr. Day filed an appeal of the judgment against him in Day I to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. See Day I, Not. of Appeal (ECF No. 29). On September 5, 2017, a Magistrate Judge of this District stayed this case pending the outcome of Mr. Day's appeal in Day I. Order Staying Case (ECF No. 12). On December 4, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Mr. Day's Complaint, J. (ECF No. 36), and on December 27, 2017, the First Circuit issued its mandate. Mandate (ECF No. 37).

         Returning to this lawsuit, on March 22, 2018, Mr. Day filed a motion for a declaratory ruling and a motion for an emergency ruling. Mot. for Declaratory Ruling, Mot. for Emergency Ruling (ECF No. 19). On May 1, 2018, the Greys and GEICO filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.[4] Mot. to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No. 32) (Greys' Mot). Mr. Day responded to the Greys' motion on July 14, 2018. Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No. 51) (Pl.'s Opp'n to Greys' Mot.). The Greys replied on July 24, 2018. Reply to Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No. 57) (Greys' Reply).

         On the same day that the Greys filed their motion to dismiss, 21st Century also moved to dismiss. Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. (ECF No. 30) (21st Century's Mot.). Mr. Day responded in opposition on July 22, 2018. Resp. in Opp'n to Mot. to Dismiss Pl.'s Compl. (ECF No. 55) (Pl.'s Opp'n to 21st Century's Mot.). 21st Century replied on August 6, 2018. Reply to Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 64) (21st Century's Reply).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Rule 12(b)(6)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957). Rule 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move to dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The United States Supreme Court has stated:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.

Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Under this standard, the pleading must contain “only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. Facial plausibility “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, a court “must accept as true all the factual allegations in the complaint and construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Alternative Energy, Inc. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 267 F.3d 30, 33 (1st Cir. 2001). The Defendants are entitled to dismissal for failure to state a claim only if “it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff would be unable to recover under any set of facts.” State St. Bank & Trust Co. v. Denman Tire Corp., 240 F.3d 83, 87 (1st Cir. 2001).

         Generally, in deciding a motion to dismiss, a court may not consider any document outside of the pleadings, unless the motion is converted into a motion for summary judgment. Watterson v. Page, 987 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1993). There is a narrow exception, however, “for documents the authenticity of which are not disputed by the parties; for official public records; for documents central to plaintiffs' claim; or for documents sufficiently referred to in the complaint.” Id.; see also Young v. Lepone, 305 F.3d 1, 11 (1st Cir. 2002) (“when the factual allegations of a complaint revolve around a document whose authenticity is unchallenged, that document effectively merges into the pleadings and the trial court can review it in deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)”) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         B. Pro Se Litigants

         Courts are generally more relaxed about compliance with procedural rules when a litigant is acting pro se. “The Supreme Court has long held that complaints drafted by non-lawyers are to be construed with some liberality.” Insituto de Educacion Universal Corp. v. United States Dep't of Educ., 209 F.3d 18, 23 (1st Cir. 2000) (citing Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980)). Even so, the First Circuit has written that “pro se status does not free a litigant in a civil case of the obligation to comply with procedural rules.” Rivera v. Riley, 209 F.3d 24, n.2 (1st Cir. 2000).

         III. THE GREYS' AND GEICO'S MOTION TO DISMISS

         A. Positions of the Parties

         1. The Greys' Motion

         The Greys and GEICO (the Greys) contend that “this action is barred by a previous action brought in the Maine Superior Court, Cumberland County, and dismissed with prejudice on its merits.” Greys' Mot. at 1. They allege that Mr. Day's initial action in Federal Court, which was dismissed without prejudice, was dismissed in part because Mr. Day represented that Cumberland County Superior Court is his preferred forum for which to pursue his claims. Id. at 2. The Greys further allege that Mr. Day failed to provide this Court with information regarding his state court action in the “Related Cases” section of his cover sheet, preventing this Court from effectively screening the duplicate lawsuit. Id. As background, the Greys detail Mr. Day's extraordinarily litigious history, which includes the Florida State Supreme Court referring to Mr. Day as “an abusive litigant”, and the United States Supreme Court calling him “an abuser of [its] certiorari process.” Id. at 8.

         In support of their argument of claim preclusion, the Greys note that “this action and the State Court Action involve the exact same parties.” Id. at 11 (citing Camps Newfound/Owatonna Corp. v. Town of Harrison, et al., 1998 ME 20, ¶ 11, 705 A.2d 1109). They further aver “by mere comparison of the two complaints . . . both actions arise from the ‘same aggregate of operative facts”, because “both actions involve a motor vehicle accident that occurred on April 29, 2016, in Pasco County, Florida, in which Mr. and Mrs. Grey accidentally struck Mr. Day's unoccupied vehicle while parked in a library parking lot.” Id. Finally, the Greys point to Justice Walker's order dismissing Mr. Day's claim with prejudice as evidence of “a valid final Judgment entered in the Grey and GEICO Defendants' favor on claims asserted by Mr. Day on these same operative facts.” Id.

         2. Roy A. Day's Response

         Mr. Day's opposition, in large part, is not responsive to the Grey's motion or to this lawsuit. See generally Pl.'s Opp'n to Grey's Mot. at 1-29. He does argue, however, that the state court action was not dismissed on its merits, because “NONE OF THE FACTS AND ISSUES HAVE BEEN ENTERTAINED BY THE MAINE STATE COURTS.” Id. at 5 (capitalization in original). He contends that his due process rights were violated in his state court action, and that the “Maine State Court Judge conspired to illegally dismiss the Amended Complaint. To have ...


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