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Amie v. Kraft-Sussman Funeral Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 26, 2019

MARGAUX AMIE, Plaintiff,


          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court are the Motions to Dismiss, (ECF Nos. 8, 15), filed by Defendant Kraft-Sussman Funeral Service, Inc. (“Defendant”). Plaintiff Margaux Amie (“Plaintiff”) filed Responses, (ECF Nos. 12, 19), and Defendant filed Replies, (ECF Nos. 14, 21).[1] For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motions to Dismiss are DENIED.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of Defendant's alleged mishandling of Donald R. Cooley Jr.'s remains. According to the Complaint, Donald R. Cooley Jr. (“Cooley”) passed away on March 8, 2018. (Am. Compl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 5). At the time of Cooley's death, Plaintiff alleges that she had filed for divorce and was living separately in Los Angeles, California, but was still legally married to Cooley. (Id.).

         On or about March 9, 2018, Plaintiff alleges that Cooley's remains were delivered to Defendant for funeral services. (See Id. ¶ 8). While on Defendant's premises, Plaintiff claims that Cooley's family members and business associates told Defendant that Plaintiff and Cooley were divorced, which Defendant accepted as true without further verification. (See Id. ¶ 9). As a result, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant permitted Cooley's family members and business associates to arrange for the disposal of Cooley's remains. (Id.). Defendant also allegedly issued a “false and fraudulent” death certificate, which indicated that Plaintiff and Cooley were legally divorced at the time of his death. (Id.).

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff claims that Defendant deprived her the right to plan and implement final arrangements as Cooley's widow. (Id. ¶ 10). Additionally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant inhibited her ability to settle Cooley's estate. (Id.). This conduct allegedly caused Plaintiff severe emotional distress, including loss of appetite, weight fluctuations, depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, and migraine headaches. (Id. ¶ 11). In order to treat these symptoms, Plaintiff alleges that she has had to seek the services of a psychiatrist. (Id. ¶ 12).

         On November 6, 2018, Plaintiff initiated the instant action against Defendant, raising claims for: (1) negligence; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress ('IIED”); and (3) negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”). (Id. ¶¶ 13-26). Defendant now moves to dismiss Plaintiffs case for failure to state a claim. (First Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 8).


         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandates that a court dismiss a cause of action that fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See North Star Int l v. Ariz. Corp. Comm 'n, 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir. 1983). When considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, dismissal is appropriate only when the complaint does not give the defendant fair notice of a legally cognizable claim and the grounds on which it rests. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). In considering whether the complaint is sufficient to state a claim, the Court will take all material allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See NL Indus., Inc. v. Kaplan, 792 F.2d 896, 898 (9th Cir. 1986).

         The Court, however, is not required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. See Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). A formulaic recitation of a cause of action with conclusory allegations is not sufficient; a plaintiff must plead facts showing that a violation is plausible, not just possible. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (emphasis added). In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         “Generally, a district court may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion . . . . However, material which is properly submitted as part of the complaint may be considered on a motion to dismiss.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1555 n.19 (9th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). Similarly, “documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading, may be considered in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss” without converting the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994). Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a court may take judicial notice of “matters of public record.” Mack v. S. Bay Beer Distrib., 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986). Otherwise, if the district court considers materials outside of the pleadings, the motion to dismiss is converted into a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); Arpin v. Santa Clara Valley Transp. Agency, 261 F.3d 912, 925 (9th Cir. 2001).

         If the court grants a motion to dismiss, it must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. Pursuant to Rule 15(a), the court should “freely” give leave to amend “when justice so requires, ” and in the absence of a reason such as “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). Generally, leave to amend is only denied when it is clear that the deficiencies of the complaint cannot be cured by amendment. See DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655, 658 (9th Cir. 1992).


         Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to plausibly allege her causes of action for the negligent handling of Cooley's remains. (First Mot. to Dismiss 3:17-23). Defendant raises three arguments in support of this assertion. First, Defendant argues that the Amended Complaint does not state the required elements to raise an emotional distress claim under Nevada law. (Id. 5:20-8:14). Second, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims are not cognizable because Cooley's remains were not “desecrated” as contemplated by Nevada law. (Id. 9:1-11:1). Lastly, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims ...

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