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Craig Cacciavillano v. Nationwide Insurance Company of America

June 12, 2012

CRAIG CACCIAVILLANO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendant Nationwide Insurance Company of America's ("Nationwide's") Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 3.) Because Plaintiff Craig Cacciavillano has failed to properly plead his claims for breach of contract and statutory bad faith on the part of the Defendant insurer, his Complaint will be dismissed. However, Cacciavillano will be given an opportunity to file an amended complaint.

BACKGROUND

On February 29, 2012, Plaintiff Craig Cacciavillano filed his Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Pennsylvania alleging the following. Cacciavillano was the owner of a 2008 Harley Davidson Fat Bob motorcycle which he purchased in January of 2008 for $25,009.36. At all relevant times, Cacciavillano maintained valid insurance on this motorcycle through Defendant Nationwide. On June 20, 2010, Cacciavillano parked the motorcycle in the parking lot of a Walmart located in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. While shopping, the motorcycle was stolen.

The theft was reported to the Stroud Regional Police Department and Cacciavillano made a claim with Nationwide. On September 10, 2010, Nationwide denied coverage for the theft. In a letter attached to the Complaint, Nationwide informed Cacciavillano that a review of the Walmart security footage revealed no motorcycles entering or leaving the parking lot in question and that it had determined there was no coverage for the loss. As a result of this failure to pay, Cacciavillano now brings a claim for breach of contract, arguing that Nationwide breached its insurance policy "by unjustly refusing to pay him the monies due, pursuant to the terms of the insurance policy." (Compl. at ¶ 12.) And, as there was no factual or legal basis for the denial of his claim, Cacciavillano also brings a bad faith insurance claim pursuant to Pennsylvania law, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 8371. In particular, Cacciavillano alleges a lack of factual basis for the denial of the claim "since it was conclusively proven that the motorcycle was stolen and no fraud or misrepresentation was committed by the Plaintiff as set forth in the said denial letter." (Compl. at ¶ 15.)

On March 23, 2012, Nationwide removed this action to the Middle District of Pennsylvania and filed the instant motion to dismiss on March 30, 2012. However, in its Reply Brief, Nationwide proposes to convert the instant motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(d) and 56.*fn1 This motion is now ripe for the Court's review.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of their claims. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. See id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

"A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2) must give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. However, mere conclusory statements will not do; "a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Instead, a complaint must "show" this entitlement by alleging sufficient facts. Id.

As such, the inquiry at the motion to dismiss stage is "normally broken into three parts: (1) identifying the elements of the claim, (2) reviewing the complaint to strike conclusory allegations, and then (3) looking at the well-pleaded components of the complaint and evaluating whether all of the elements identified in part one of the inquiry are sufficiently alleged." Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560, 563 (3d Cir. 2011).

Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element, Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). "When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950.

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or ...


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