The Court Assumes The Complaint Is True In All Motions to Dismiss

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided Robert Reynolds v. Jimmy John’s. The case involved two issues. The first issue was whether or not the plaintiff’s complaint alleged sufficient duty to puruse a claim against Jimmy John’s for several counts, including negligent training of its employees and negligent supervision. The second involves the procedure of dismissals of claims.

This case arises from a car/motorcycle accident. The plaintiff was driving his motorcycle on Iles Avenue. The defendant contracts with “independent contractors” to drive their food to be delivered. Sawyer, the Jimmy John’s driver, had driven across the parking lot in front of a Jimmy John’s restaurant and into the US Bank parking lot to exit the driveway. Sawyer turned left out of the US Bank driveway, failed to yield to traffic, and collided with plaintiff’s motorcycle. Plaintiff was injured.

Defense moved to dismiss the driver’s claim, attaching an affidavit of a Jimmy John’s employee indicating that the driver was an independent contractor. The deposition testimony, which was attached to the motion, apparently did not indicate whether or not the accident was caused by the “freaky fast delivery,” promised by Jimmy John’s. Plaintiff contends that “freaky fast delivery” is the reason for the accident.

The trial court ruled in favor of Jimmy John’s, finding that the deposition was enough to prove that there was no way plaintiff could prevail. It held that the drivers have a license; Jimmy John’s need not further train the drivers.

The Appellate Court reversed the finding that there was no duty. The plaintiff had alleged that defendants were negligent for failing to instruct the employees in the making of “rapid deliveries in a safe and reasonable manner” because defendants have a policy of “freaky fast” delivery within fifteen minutes of a sandwich order. Plaintiff’s complaint also alleged that the defendants instructed and encouraged employees to expedite the delivery. Furthermore, the complaint alleged, when hired, defendants employee’s were provided with a manual to review which contained no information on how to make proper and safe deliveries. The complaint also alleged that the defendants delivery policy creates a duty to the public to properly supervise their employees in the making of such deliveries. Defendants claim they did not owe a duty to supervise Sawyer, as he was a licensed driver and the plaintiff did not adequately provide facts to support the duty. The Appellate Court held that the complaint was sufficient without much more reasoning.

The court also took the opportunity to discuss, at some length, the distinction between motions to dismiss based on two different sections, section 2-615 and section 2-619, of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

2-615 motion, the court held is significantly different from a 2-619 motion. In the 2-615 motion the court much assume all facts plead as true. With 2-619, on the other hand, the court considers the facts of the case. However, even with a 2-619 motion, the court must assume that the allegations are true. 2-619 is used if there is an affirmative defense to the action. Merely disputing facts alleged in the complaint is not sufficient.

The court distinguished the 2-619 motion from motion for summary judgment. The court indicated the motion for summary judgment contests the validity of the allegations in a complaint. The 2-619 motion, on the other hand only is used to assert affirmative defenses.

Ackerman Law Offices is available for handling car accidents against corporations. If you have a claim of any sort, please feel free to contact us.