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Ray v. Federal Ins. Co.

December 18, 2008

GEORGE E. RAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL INS. CO./CHUBB, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff George E. Ray ("Ray") filed this pro se complaint against Defendant Federal Insurance Company/CHUBB ("Federal"), alleging that, during the years 2004 through 2007, Federal employed "deceptive and fraudulent business practices," made "false representations," and committed perjury, forgery and mail fraud. (Complaint ¶ 1, doc. no. 5.) It appears that Ray is complaining of Federal's conduct in denying his claim for total disability benefits and of its conduct in the ensuing litigation, which was ruled upon by this Court on May 10, 2007.*fn1 See Ray v. Federal Ins. Co., et al., No. 05-2507, 2007 WL 1377645, at *1 (E.D. Pa. May 10, 2007) ("Ray I").

In his earlier complaint, Ray averred that Federal breached its insurance contract with him by not providing him with total disability benefits after he fell down a flight of stairs.*fn2 Ray, 2007 WL 1377645 at *1. Federal defended itself by pointing to specific evidence that Ray's disability was caused, at least in part, by his pre-existing degenerative medical condition (spondylotic cervical myelopathy). Id. at *4. Federal argued that it did not breach its contract with Ray because the contract provided coverage only for "accidents" that are the "direct" cause of the disability, and specifically excluded from coverage disabilities resulting from disease or illness. Id. at *1.

The earlier litigation also addressed Ray's claims that Federal "lied to the Pennsylvania Insurance Commission" and "that Federal and its counsel engaged in several acts of misconduct, most notably lying to Ray and to this Court." Id. at *2. The Court considered these claims in conjunction with Ray's motion for sanctions against Federal, which generally averred "that Federal 'lied,' 'falsified evidence,' and violated the Court imposed deadlines for producing discovery and filing certain motions." Id. at *2 n.2.

After an exhaustive review of the record, this Court denied Ray's motion for sanctions and granted summary judgment to Federal. In doing so, the Court noted that "what should have been a simple case involving the 'cause' of Ray's disability turned into an eighteen-month ordeal that explored tangential paths, sapped the time and energy of all parties (including the Court) involved, and resulted in unsubstantiated finger-pointing and allegations of wrongdoing." Id. at *3.

On December 5, 2007, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment on behalf of Federal, noting that its decision was based on "substantially the same reasons set forth in the District Court's detailed opinion." Ray v. Federal Ins. Co./CHUBB, 256 Fed. Appx. 566, 567 (3d Cir. 2007). The Court of Appeals also explicitly affirmed this Court's denial of Ray's motion for sanctions. Id. at 569 n.1 ("Ray also contends that Federal engaged in fraud or misrepresentation in denying his claim. To the extent that Ray continues to raise the issue in this appeal, we deny the claim as it is unsupported by the record. Relatedly, we also affirm the District Court's denial of Ray's motion for sanctions.") Ray's petition for a rehearing en banc by the Court of Appeals was denied on February 4, 2008.

(Def.'s Mtn. to Dismiss, Ex. C, doc. no. 7.) Later, Ray's Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court was also denied. (Id., Ex. D.)

Now, Federal has filed a motion to dismiss Ray's second complaint against it for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. For the reasons that follow, Federal's motion will be granted.*fn3

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6)

In deciding a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court must "accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." DeBenedictis v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 492 F.3d 209, 216 (3d Cir. 2007) (quotation omitted). The Court need not, however, "credit either bald assertions or legal conclusions in a complaint when deciding a motion to dismiss." Id. (quotation omitted). Viewing the complaint in this manner, the Court must dismiss the complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

In conducting its analysis, the Court must "liberally construe" pleadings by pro se litigants. Dluhos v. Strasberg, 321 F.3d 365, 369 (3d Cir. 2003). Moreover, the Court must afford a pro se Plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint before dismissing it pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), unless such an amendment would be futile. See Roman v. Jeffes, 904 F.2d 192, 196 n.8 (3d Cir. 1990) ("This court has a long standing policy of allowing pro se litigants to amend their ...


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