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Bartholf v. General Motors

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

April 3, 2018



          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Susan B. Bartholf filed this pro se civil action on a general complaint form. Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, this Court must review the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will dismiss this action.


         Plaintiff states that she is a resident of Kentucky. She brings this action against General Motors, LLC; Dwain Taylor Chevrolet; and Motorists Insurance Group. Plaintiff indicates that the basis for the Court's jurisdiction in this action is both the federal-question statute and diversity of citizenship. Plaintiff identifies the basis for federal-question jurisdiction as “Title 49 of United States Code, Chapter 301 Supportive Federal Regulations Product Safety Recall # 15757.” She indicates that General Motors, LLC, 's principal place of business is in Michigan; Dwain Taylor Chevrolet's principal place of business is in Kentucky; and Motorists Insurance Group's principal place of business is in Ohio.

         Plaintiff states that in September 2016 she took her car to Dwain Taylor Chevrolet “for diagnostics on the computer for an airbag light and a Key Fob recall.” She states that Dwain Taylor Chevrolet gave her “modified key fobs (2) with new parts” but when she inquired about diagnostics, she was told “it wasn't performed, no time today . . . .” Plaintiff then states that on April 9, 2017, her car caught on fire. Plaintiff alleges that she subsequently learned that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had issued a product safety recall for her car for “under hood fire” in February 2016.

         Plaintiff seems to claim that she is suing Dwain Taylor Chevrolet for violating the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. § 30101 et seq., by returning her car in September 2016 without fixing the hood fire defect that was the subject of a recall. She specifically cites to the NHTSA's Recall Bulletin concerning the under hood fire which states: “It is a violation of Federal law for a dealer to deliver a new motor vehicle or any new or used item of motor vehicle equipment (including a tire) covered by this notification under a sale or lease until the defect or noncompliance is remedied.” Plaintiff also indicates that she is suing Dwain Taylor Chevrolet for negligence, “criminal negligence violation of Federal Law by NHTSA by not repairing the . . . recall, ” and “fraudulent cover up.”

         Plaintiff states that she is suing General Motors, LLC, for product liability, strict liability, and “cover up.” These claims are based upon General Motors' alleged failure to warn her about the hood fire defect in her car and the recall, “secret warranties, ” and its refusal to “help her” or compensate her for the damages she claims she sustained as a result of her car fire.

         Plaintiff states that she is suing the Motorists Insurance Group, the insurer of Dwain Taylor Chevrolet, for the negligent investigation of her claim and for “violation of the federal laws of the NHTSA and the cover-up.” Plaintiff indicates that these claims are based upon the investigation that Motorists Insurance Group conducted into her claim against Dwain Taylor Chevrolet, which she alleges involved “fabricated witnesses . . . discrepancies, untrue statements [and] photo enhanced documents.”

         Plaintiff seeks damages totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars “for permanent injuries and consequential damages” and “repetitive stress injuries” she sustained as result of the alleged car fire and Defendants' actions. These injuries include “manic/panic attacks, ” nausea, vomiting, pain, and economic hardship that has “almost killed her one more than one occasion.”


         On review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), a district court must dismiss a case at any time if it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608-09 (6th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007).

         In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A 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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[A] district court must (1) view the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and (2) take all well-pleaded factual allegations as true.” Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Gunasekera v. Irwin, 551 F.3d 461, 466 (6th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted)).

         Although courts are to hold pro se pleadings “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972), this duty to be less stringent “does not require us to conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610 F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir. 1979), or to create a claim for a plaintiff. Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975). To command otherwise would require courts “to explore exhaustively all potential claims of a pro se plaintiff, [and] would also transform the district court from its legitimate advisory role to the improper role of an advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         III. ...

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