Price v. E. I. DuPont De Nemours & Co.

26 A.3d 162 (Del. 2011)

 

RULE:

A motion for leave to amend a complaint is futile where the amended complaint would be subject to dismissal under Del. Super. Ct. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The Delaware Supreme Court reviews the grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss de novo to determine whether a trial judge erred as a matter of law in formulating or applying legal precepts. In that context, the Supreme Court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, accepting as true all well pleaded allegations and drawing reasonable inferences that logically flow from them. The Court declines, however, to accept conclusory allegations unsupported by specific facts or to draw unreasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.

FACTS:

The employee worked as a maintenance technician for the employer for more than three decades. During his employment, the employee worked with and was around products that contained asbestos. He allegedly transported asbestos fibers home on his clothing, vehicle, and skin. His wife claimed that she suffered illnesses due to her exposure to asbestos dust and fibers from the employee. She filed suit, alleging nonfeasance. After a precedential decision, the wife sought to amend her complaint in order to change the text to allege misfeasance. The trial court adopted a special master's determination that the amendment would be futile, as a special relationship between the wife and the employer was not alleged.

ISSUE:

Should the wife be allowed to amend her complaint?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

The court agreed with the lower court and held that although the wife attempted to recast her amended complaint in an effort to allege misfeasance, the amendment was predicated on exactly the same underlying facts that supported the claim of nonfeasance. Further, no "special relationship" existed between the parties for purposes of the nonfeasance claim, such that no duty of care was owed by the employer to her. Accordingly, any amendment to the complaint would have been futile.

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