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Ramberger v. Government Employee Insurance Co.

November 18, 2009

SHARLENE RAMBERGER, PLAINTIFF
v.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is Defendant Government Employee Insurance Company's ("GEICO" or "defendant") motion to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

Background

Plaintiff incurred medical bills as the result of a September 2006 automobile accident. (Id. at ¶ 5). Plaintiff had an automobile insurance policy purchased from GEICO. (Doc. 1-3, Complaint ¶ 4). Plaintiff asserts that defendant was obligated to provide medical benefits under the terms of the insurance policy for injuries sustained in the accident. (Id. at ¶ 6). Defendant, however, refused to provide the benefits according to plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff avers that defendant's actions in denying benefits violate the requirements of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility law, specifically 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1797.*fn1

Thus, plaintiff instituted the instant action in the Court of Common Pleas for Pike County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff asserts a cause of action under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1797, et seq.*fn2 She seeks the following: interest on the claims from the date they were due at a rate of 12%; treble damages; costs and attorney fees.

The defendant removed the action to this court and filed a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed a motion to remand this action (Doc. 20). The court denied the remand motion on May 29, 2009. The parties then completed the briefing on the instant motion to dismiss, bringing the case to its present posture.

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 Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997); Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

Discussion

The defendant's motion raises two issues. First, defendant argues that plaintiff cannot sue under Pennsylvania law for the instant case because it involves payment of benefits under New Jersey law. Second, it asserts that plaintiff has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. We will address each issue in turn.

I. Suit under Pennsylvania Law for Denial/Delay of Benefits Provided for Under New Jersey Law

The defendant asserts that the automobile accident at issue occurred in New Jersey. The payments that plaintiff sought were due under the New Jersey "Deemer Statute" for personal injury protection ("PIP") provided for under New Jersey law. Defendant's position is that a Pennsylvania citizen injured in a New Jersey automobile accident does not have a cause of action under the Pennsylvania Motor ...


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