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Rodriguez v. United States

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 2, 2018

FEDERICO RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants.

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is defendant in intervention Federico Rodriguez's (“Rodriguez” or “plaintiff”) motion for judgment on the pleadings as to plaintiff in intervention Sussex Insurance Company's (“Sussex” or “insurance carrier”) first amended complaint in intervention. (ECF No. 74). Sussex filed a response (ECF No. 81), to which Rodriguez replied (ECF No. 82).

         Also before the court is Sussex's motion to perfect and enforce lien. (ECF No. 85). Rodriguez filed a response (ECF No. 90), to which Sussex replied (ECF No. 95).

         I. Facts

         This is a personal injury action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. (the “FTCA”), arising out of events that occurred at Nellis Air Force Base (the “base”) located in Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 16, 2011.

         Rodriguez, a truck driver, was on the base to pick up a load that was to be transported. (ECF No. 3). The base is equipped with active vehicle barriers (“AVB”) designed to protect the base from dangerous vehicles unlawfully entering the facility. (ECF No. 3). Rodriguez alleges that despite the fact that he was lawfully permitted to be on the base, the base unwarrantedly deployed an AVB, causing him injury. (ECF No. 3).

         Rodriguez's employer Fontana Transport, Inc. (“Fontana”) had worker's compensation insurance covering his injuries. (ECF No. 18). Plaintiff in intervention Sussex is the subrogee. (ECF No. 1). Sussex paid benefits to Rodriguez pursuant to the workers' compensation insurance policy and California law. (ECF No. 11).

         On January 4, 2016, Rodriguez filed a complaint against the government under the Federal Torts Claims Act (“FTCA”) seeking damages for the negligent acts of the government. (ECF No. 3). On May 12, 2016, Sussex filed a complaint in intervention against the government alleging two claims for relief: (1) negligence; and (2) subrogation. (ECF No. 18). On December 14, 2016 the court dismissed with prejudice Sussex's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), because Sussex failed to exhaust its administrative remedies as required under the FTCA. (ECF No. 39). Sussex was granted leave to amend its complaint in intervention. Id.

         On December 28, 2016, Sussex filed an amended complaint in intervention naming Rodriguez as the defendant in intervention. (ECF No. 42). The amended complaint alleges Sussex is entitled to subrogation of workers' compensation benefits paid under the workers' compensation policy issued to its insured, Fontana, for expenses incurred by its employee, Rodriguez. Id. Additionally, Sussex seeks to enforce its lien rights under the California Labor Code against any recovery by Rodriguez from the government. (ECF No. 85).

         In the instant motion, Rodriguez requests a judgment on the pleadings. (ECF No. 74). Rodriguez claims Sussex cannot, as a matter of law, bring an action directly against Rodriguez, the plaintiff in the original suit. Id. Thus, Sussex's complaint in intervention should be dismissed with prejudice. Id. Rodriguez further alleges Sussex's claims for subrogation and/or lien claims were eliminated when it failed to timely file a FTCA claim, resulting in the dismissal, with prejudice, of its direct action against the government. Id. On similar grounds, Rodriguez argues Sussex's motion to perfect and enforce lien (ECF No. 85) should be denied as well. (ECF No. 90).

         II. Legal Standard

         “After the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) are “functionally identical” to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989).

         In reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c), the court “must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009).

         “[J]udgment on the pleadings is proper ‘when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). The allegations of the nonmoving party must be accepted as true while any allegations made by the moving party that have been denied or contradicted are assumed to be false. MacDonald v. Grace Church Seattle, 457 F.3d 1079, 1081 (9th Cir. 2006).

         III. ...


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