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James and Marlene Genter v. Allstate Property and

June 24, 2011

JAMES AND MARLENE GENTER,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASULATY INSURANCE COMPANY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

MEMORANDUM OPINION REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND/OR STRIKE PLAINTIFFS' IMPROPER PRAYER FOR RELIEF (DOC. No. 4)

I.Introduction

On May 11, 2011, Plaintiffs James and Marlene Genter filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania against Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company ("Allstate") alleging breach of contract and bad faith arising from nonpayment of Plaintiffs‟ claims for "underinsured motorist coverage" benefits under their Allstate automobile insurance policy. Doc. No. 1, Ex. B (Complaint). In light of the parties‟ diverse citizenship, the case was removed to this Court on May 31, 2011. Doc. No. 1.

At issue in this case is Claim III of Plaintiffs‟ Complaint, which alleges that Allstate‟s nonpayment amounts to bad faith in violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Insurance Practices Act and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. On June 7, 2011, Allstate filed a Motion to Dismiss, which asserts that Claim III should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a cause of action. Doc 4. Alternatively, Allstate asserts in the same Motion that certain damages sought under Claim III are not recoverable as matter of law and asks that the relevant damage clauses be stricken pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Id.

For the reasons discussed below, Allstate‟s Motion to Dismiss Claim III of Plaintiffs‟ Complaint will be denied, and its Motion to Strike certain portions of the prayer for relief in Claim III will be granted.

II. Factual Background

On May 27, 2010, Plaintiff James Genter was involved in an automobile accident in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, with an individual named Adam O‟Bryan. Genter sustained multiple injuries, many of which he asserts will have permanent effects on his health and earning capacity. Doc. No. 1, Ex. B ¶¶ 7-8, 10-13. In light of the serious nature of his injuries and the fact that O‟Bryan‟s insurance policy contained a $100,000 limit, Genter‟s counsel sent a letter to Allstate on October 7, 2010, claiming "underinsured motorist coverage" benefits available under Genter‟s own Allstate automobile insurance policy. Id. ¶ 14.

Thereafter, Allstate offered Genter $15,000 to settle his claim,*fn1 and on January 18, 2011, Genter‟s counsel sent Allstate a letter rejecting this settlement offer and requesting arbitration of Genter‟s claim. Id. ¶ 24; Doc. No. 1, Ex. B at 24 (letter from Genter‟s counsel to Allstate). Allstate notified Genter on March 7, 2011, that it was not willing to arbitrate and advised Genter to file a lawsuit to assert his right to the underinsured motorist benefits at issue. Doc. No. 1, Ex. B ¶ 25. Genter filed the present suit in response to Allstate‟s letter.

III.Standard of Review

A. Rule 12(b)(6)

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), civil complaints must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." A complaint may be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544, 570 (2007)).*fn2

To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a claim for relief now ""requires more than labels and conclusions‟" or ""a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.‟" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1948 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While Rule 8 was "a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era," it does not "unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950.

Building upon the landmark United States Supreme Court decisions in Twombly and Iqbal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently explained that a District Court must take ...


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