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Barry Cummings and Harry Cummings, Jr v. Allstate Insurance Company

July 11, 2011

BARRY CUMMINGS AND HARRY CUMMINGS, JR., ADMINISTRATOR OF ESTATE OF MARY LOUISE CUMMINGS, DECEASED PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant, Allstate Insurance Company's ("Allstate") Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons stated below, Allstate's Motion will be granted.

I. FACTS*fn1

Barry Cummings ("Plaintiff") is the son of the late Mary Louise Cummings ("Mary").

Plaintiff is the named insured and Mary was an additional insured on a homeowner's insurance policy with Allstate. On May 31, 2009, water escaped from their plumbing or heating system, which caused the floor of their home to collapse. Plaintiff provided prompt notice of the loss to Allstate, and, in response, Allstate sent an adjuster to Plaintiff's home. Subsequently, Allstate denied coverage. Plaintiffs could not afford to repair the floor out-of-pocket. On September 19, 2010, Mary tripped and fell on the collapsed floor and sustained a fracture in her left leg. On September 20, 2010 Mary underwent surgery to correct the fracture. On September 22, 2010, while hospitalized, Mary suffered a cardiac arrest and died. Plaintiffs allege that the damages to their home and consequential losses from their inability to use their home exceed $50,000.

Plaintiff commenced this action against Allstate on May 13, 2010 by filing a Statement of Claim in the Philadelphia County Municipal Court. (Not. of Rem. ¶ 1.) A default judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff on July 19, 2010 for failure to appear. Allstate appealed the default judgment on August 17, 2010. On August 19, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. After Mary passed away, Plaintiff's brother, Harry William Cummings, Jr. ("Harry"), applied for and was granted letters of administration by the Chester County Register of Wills. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. On April 22, Allstate removed the case to this Court. On April 28, 2011, Allstate filed the instant Motion to Dismiss.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, the Supreme Court stated that "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Following Twombly, the Third Circuit has explained that the factual allegations in the complaint may not be "so undeveloped that [they do] not provide a defendant the type of notice which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008). Moreover, "it is no longer sufficient to allege mere elements of a cause of action; instead 'a complaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed] conduct.'" Id. (alteration in original) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563 n.8). Furthermore, the complaint's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 234 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "This 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage,' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

Notwithstanding Twombly, the basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) have not changed. The Knit With v. Knitting Fever, Inc., No. 08-4221, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30230, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 8, 2009). The general rules of pleading still require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, not detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at 231. Moreover, when evaluating a motion to dismiss, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of fact in the plaintiff's complaint, and must view any reasonable inferences that may be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id.; Buck v. Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir. 2006). Finally, the court must "determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Pinkerton v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Whether Compensatory Damages Are Recoverable Under Statutory Bad Faith Claims

Allstate argues that compensatory damages claims are not recoverable under statutory claims for bad faith. Accordingly, Allstate moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for compensatory damages in Count II*fn2 and Count III*fn3 of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. Pennsylvania's bad faith statute provides:

In an action arising under an insurance policy, if the court finds that the insurer has acted in bad faith toward the insured, the court may take all of the following actions:

(1) Award interest on the amount of the claim from the date the claim was made by the insured in an amount equal to the ...


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