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Amore v. Accor North America

January 10, 2008

ROLLIN AMORE, AS CO-ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATES OF SUSANNE AMORE AND SALVATORE MICHAEL AMORE, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ACCOR NORTH AMERICA, INC. ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos. 27, 28, 29

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS'MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arrives on the defendants' motion for summary judgment*fn1 and the plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. The defendants are subsidiary corporations of a corporation that was allegedly involved in the instruction of train attendants whose negligence led to the deaths of the plaintiff's family, the Amores. The plaintiff seeks to impute the alleged liability of the parent corporation to its subsidiaries, so that this court may exercise jurisdiction. The plaintiff's complaint, however, does not allege facts sufficient to impute liability by piercing the corporate veil. Furthermore, a court in the Southern District of New York has already dismissed one of the subsidiaries named in this suit. Consequently, the court grants the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denies the plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

On November 6, 2002, the plaintiff's mother and brother died in a train fire while traveling from Paris to Munich. Notice of Removal (Feb. 6, 2006) at 2. The plaintiff's brother's wife and two children also died in the fire. Id. The fire allegedly began when a train conductor negligently set fire to the train, then absconded to safety without waking any of the sleeping passengers. Id.

On July 21, 2003, Carolyn Reers filed a complaint in New York as the co-administrator of the Amore estates. Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. B. Reers brought a wrongful death and survival action against numerous defendants, including Accor, Société Anonyme ("Accor S.A.") and Accor North America, Inc. ("Accor N.A."), two of the defendants in the instant action. Id. ¶¶ 45-66. Reers' complaint alleged that Accor S.A. and Accor N.A. negligently trained the attendants and failed to properly maintain and operate the train itself, causing the Amore family members to experience pain and suffering prior to their deaths. Id.; First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 26, 32.

Accor S.A. filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on multiple grounds, including the doctrine of forum non conveniens, in the Southern District of New York. Defs.' Mot., Ex. F at 34-46. After the parties submitted briefs on Accor S.A.'s arguments and after the court held oral arguments on Accor S.A.'s motion to dismiss, Judge Cedarbaum issued a forty-six-page opinion holding that the doctrine of forum non conveniens barred the plaintiff's suit. Id. Applying the two-prong test for the application of forum non conveniens set forth by the Supreme Court in Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501 (1947), Judge Cedarbaum held that France was an adequate alternative forum for litigation and that the relevant public and private interest factors favored litigating in France. Id. at 35-46. Judge Cedarbaum dismissed the action and concluded it was "unnecessary to reach the Accor defendants' argument that the complaint fails to state a claim against them." Id. at 46.

On October 28, 2003, Accor N.A. filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). First Am. Compl., Ex. D. An affidavit by Thomas A. Leghorn, the executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of Accor N.A. is attached to the motion to dismiss. Id. The plaintiff responded to this motion, requesting that Accor N.A. be voluntarily dismissed. Def's Mot., Ex. D at 6. Judge Cedarbaum then granted the defendant's unopposed motion to dismiss Accor N.A. Def.'s Mot., Ex. C.

B. Procedural History

On November 7, 2005, the plaintiff filed a complaint against Accor N.A., Accor S.A. and Sofitel Group, LLC in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5-10. The plaintiff seeks "to recover the damages suffered by the decedents prior to their deaths, which were directly and proximately caused by the ineffective training that the railcar attendants received from the defendants." Id. ¶ 1. On February 6, 2006, the defendants removed the case to this court. Notice of Removal (Feb. 6, 2006). The defendants subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the claims against Accor S.A. and Accor N.A., and the plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint seeking to "reflect the corporate name of the actual owner of the Sofitel Lafayette Square Hotel." Pl.'s Mot. to Am. Compl. at 1. On November 9, 2006, the court ordered the plaintiff to show cause why the case should not be dismissed as barred by res judicata. Because res judicata bars ...


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