United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Gator Northridge
Partners, LLP's ("GNP") motion to dismiss
Defendant Dolgencorp, LLC's ("Dolgencorp")
cross-claims under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. (Dkt. No. 20.) For the reasons set forth
below, the Court denies the motion.
case arises out of an alleged slip and fall incident that
occurred at a Dollar General store on Hilton Head Island,
South Carolina on June 25, 2015. (Dkt. No. 8 at 2.) Plaintiff
Ryan McAvoy claims that he was injured at the Dollar General
Store when his foot went into a hole in the floor of a store
aisle. (Dkt. No. 8 at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that the property
is owned by and/or under the control of Defendants Dolgencorp
and GNP. (Dkt. No. 8 at 1-2.) Plaintiff asserts that the
negligence of GNP, as lessor of the property, and Dolgencorp,
as lessee and operator of the store, caused his injuries.
(Dkt. No. 8 at 2-4.)
answer to Plaintiffs amended complaint, Dolgencorp asserts
three cross-claims against GNP: (1) contractual
indemnification; (2) equitable indemnification; and (3)
contribution. (Dkt. No. 11 at 10-12.) GNP has moved to
dismiss all three cross-claims for failure to state a claim
under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(Dkt. No. 20.)
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the
dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion
tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does
not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the
claim, or the applicability of defenses. . . . Our inquiry
then is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief" Republican Party of
N.C v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992)
(quotation marks and citation omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, the Court is obligated to "assume the truth of
all facts alleged in the complaint and the existence of any
fact that can be proved, consistent with the complaint's
allegations." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs.
Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000).
While the Court must accept the facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party, it "need not accept
as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the
requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability
requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than
a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility"
where the pleading "allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id.
Contractual and Equitable Indemnification
is a form of compensation in which one party is liable to
another party for "loss or damage the second party
incurs to a third party." Campbell v. Beacon Mfg.
Co., 438 S.E.2d 271, 272 (S.C. Ct. App. 1993). "A
right of indemnity may arise by contract ... or by operation
of law as a matter of equity." Id. Contractual
indemnity "will be construed in accordance with the
rules of contracts generally." Id. (citing
Fed. Pac. Elec. v. Carolina Prod. Enters., 378
S.E.2d 56 (S.C. Ct. App. 1989)). To sustain a claim for
equitable indemnification, a party must established the
"existence of some special relationship between the
parties" Rhett v. Gray, 736 S.E.2d 873, 884
(S.C. Ct. App. 2012) (quoting Toomer v. Norfolk S. Ry.
Co., 544 S.E.2d 634, 637 (S.C. Ct. App. 2001)). Such a
relationship exists when a "party's negligence or
breach of contract is directed at the non-faulting party and
the non-faulting party incurs attorney fees and costs in
defending itself against the other's conduct."
Id. (quoting Town of Winnsboro v.
Wiedeman-Singleton, Inc., 414 S.E.2d 118, 121 (S.C.
South Carolina, "[w]here two or more persons become
jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to
person or property . . . there is a right of contribution
among them." S.C. Code Ann. § 15-38-20(A); see
also Vermeer Carolina's, Inc., ...