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Webb v. Discover Property & Casualty Insurance Co.

September 22, 2009

LEROY WEBB, ANNA WEBB, HERMAN DOUGLAS AND CYNTHIA R. DOUGLAS INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS
v.
DISCOVER PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY; THE TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY; THE TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF AMERICA; THE TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF CONNECTICUT; TRAVELERS PROPERTY AND CASUALTY COMPANY OF AMERICA; THE CHARTER OAK FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY; ST. PAUL TRAVELERS COMPANIES, INC.; THE ST. PAUL TRAVELERS COMPANIES, INC., THE TRAVELERS COMPANIES, INC.; STANDARD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF CONNECTICUT; TRAVELERS INSURANCE GROUP HOLDINGS, INC.; TRAVELERS PROPERTY CASUALTY CORP.; AND THE PHOENIX INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

Plaintiffs Leroy Webb and Herman Douglas were injured in separate automobile accidents while operating vehicles in the scope of their employment. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ ¶ 7, 24). The vehicles driven by Webb and Douglas were both insured by Defendant Discover Property & Casualty Insurance Company (hereinafter "Discover"). (Id. at ¶ ¶ 10, 25). The policies, which were issued to the plaintiffs' respective employers, were written so as not to provide underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 11, 26). Plaintiffs allege that the forms used by Discover that provide for the rejection of underinsured motorist coverage are invalid and void under section 1731 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 PENN. CONS. STAT. § 1731(c.1). (Id. at ¶ ¶ 14, 27).

Accordingly, plaintiffs brought the instant three-count complaint. The counts are as follows: 1) declaratory judgment; 2) insurance bad faith; and 3) appointment of special master.

Plaintiffs seek to bring the case as a class action. They propose to represent the following class:

All persons injured in motor vehicle accidents while covered (including but not limited to derivative claims) under a policy issued by any of the Defendants and were not provided uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits even though the form used to reject any such coverage is void and not valid. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 31).

Plaintiffs filed the instant action in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas on August 5, 2008. On August 27, 2008, the defendants removed the case to this court. The defendants then filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Because we are sitting in diversity, the substantive law of Pennsylvania shall apply to the instant case. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)).

Standard of Review

This case is before the court pursuant to defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). When a 12(b)(6) motion is filed, the sufficiency of the allegations in the complaint is tested. Granting the motion is appropriate if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, the plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," or put another way, "nudged [his or her] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The Third Circuit interprets Twombly to require the plaintiff to describe "enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of" each necessary element of the claims alleged in the complaints. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that "justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the next stage of litigation." Id. at 234-35.

In relation to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the complaint need only provide "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232 (citation omitted). "Rule 8(a)(2) requires a 'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an entitlement to relief." Id.

The issue is whether the facts alleged in the complaint, if true, support a claim upon which relief can be granted. In deciding a 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and give the pleader the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can fairly be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.1997). To decide a motion to dismiss, a court generally should consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of a claim. See In re ...


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