United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. Bataillon Senior United States District Judge.
Chace (hereinafter Chace) is suing Magellan Ammonia Pipeline,
L.P. and Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. (collectively
“Magellan”) under six theories of recovery. Four
are state law claims: strict liability, negligence, nuisance,
and trespass. One is a federal law claim: Resource
Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) (42 U.S.C. §
6972(a)(1)(B)). One invokes both state and federal law:
Inverse Condemnation (U.S. Const. amend. V; Neb. Const. art.
I, § 21). Chace alleges that Magellan operated its
anhydrous ammonia pipeline unlawfully and seeks relief for
damages resulting from the release of ammonia onto
Chace's property. Defendants have moved to dismiss this
case under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1).
Filing No. 12.
plaintiff, Steven Chace, lives and owns property in Burt
County, Nebraska. Chace is an environmental scientist and an
avid outdoorsman. Filing No. 1, ¶ 12. The defendants,
Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. and its wholly-owned,
indirect subsidiary, Magellan Ammonia Pipeline, L.P., are
Delaware limited partnerships. Filing No. 13-1, ¶ 4.
Magellan operates a pipeline by easement across Chace's
land. Filing No. 1, ¶ 10. The pipeline carries anhydrous
2012, Chace began to suspect that the ammonia pipeline was
leaking. Id. at ¶ 13. He noticed dead plants
above the pipeline and smelled ammonia around the pipeline.
Id. He reported the leak to Magellan in May 2013,
and a Magellan repair team unearthed the pipeline and put a
collar on the pipeline to plug the leak. Id. at
the night of October 17, 2016, Chace woke up choking.
Id. at ¶ 14, ¶ 21. He smelled ammonia in
his house, and when he looked out of his windows, he saw a
cloud of anhydrous ammonia enveloping his home. Id.
at ¶ 21. The pipeline had ruptured and was releasing
more than 80, 000 gallons of ammonia into the air.
Id. at ¶ 19.
knew the ammonia could kill him. Id. at ¶ 22.
Still, he stayed in the ammonia cloud long enough to dial
911, to warn his neighbors of the danger, and to arrange to
block the road, protecting those who might stumble into the
danger unaware. After doing all he could do, Chace fled his
home on foot, running for his life. Id. at ¶ 2,
escaped, but not all of his neighbors made it out alive.
Chace watched as one of his neighbors-too far away to be
helped-died in the ammonia cloud. Filing No. 1, ¶ 2.
filed the Complaint on March 3, 2018, seeking relief from
Magellan for the damages he attributes to the ammonia
release. These damages include the impairment of Chace's
eyes, lungs, and kidneys; unremitting pain in his
extremities; and the loss of higher intellectual functions
and earning potential. Filing No. 1, ¶ 25.
filed a motion to dismiss. Filing No. 12. Magellan asserts
that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this
case (Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1)) and that Chace has failed to
state a claim for which relief can be granted (Fed. R. Civ.
P. 12(b)(6)). Chace and Magellan have briefed the motion to
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Federal Rules, a complaint must contain “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 n.3.
(2007). “Specific facts are not necessary; the
statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
93 (2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). In
order to survive a motion to dismiss under, Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), the plaintiff's obligation to provide the
grounds for his entitlement to relief necessitates that the
complaint contain “more than labels and conclusions,
and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is
“a context specific task” that requires the court
“to draw on its judicial experience and common
sense.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009). Under Twombly, a court considering a motion
to dismiss may begin by identifying pleadings that, because
they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth. Id. Although legal conclusions
“can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be
supported by factual allegations.” Id. Courts
follow a “two-pronged approach” to evaluate Rule
12(b)(6) challenges. Id. First, a court divides the
allegations between factual and legal allegations; factual
allegations should be accepted as true, but legal allegations
should be disregarded. Id. Second, the factual
allegations must be parsed for facial plausibility.
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. at 678 (stating that the
plausibility standard does not require a probability, but
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.). The court must find enough factual matter
(taken as true) to suggest that discovery will reveal
evidence of the elements of the claim. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 558, 556. When the allegations in a complaint,
however true, could not raise a claim of ...