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Austin James Associates, Inc v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co

October 5, 2012

AUSTIN JAMES ASSOCIATES, INC., PLAINTIFF :
v.
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SPECIALTY LINES INSURANCE CO., DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is the motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure filed by Defendant American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co. (hereinafter "AISLIC") in this breach of insurance contract case. The parties have briefed their respective positions, and the matter is ripe for disposition. Background *fn1

Defendant AISLIC sold Plaintiff, Austin James Associates a five-year environmental cost-cap insurance policy covering the term March 1, 2004 through March 1, 2009. (hereinafter "the policy"). (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 7). Defendant's broker, the Seltzer Company, negotiated the policy. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 7). Plaintiff paid the premium of $85,338.00 to Seltzer on February 12, 2004. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10). When it paid the premium, plaintiff requested that effective date of the insurance be March 1, 2004. (Id. ¶ 9).

Years later, plaintiff submitted a $295,613.00 claim under the policy. (Id. ¶ 13). Defendant denied plaintiff's claim based upon the policy's coverage period. (Id. ¶ 14). At the time it submitted the claim, plaintiff noticed that the commencement date on the policy was not March 1, 2004, as requested, but May 20, 2004, and the length of the policy had been changed from five (5) years to four (4) years and four (4) months. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13).

Based upon the denial of the claim, plaintiff instituted the instant action. Plaintiff's one-count complaint alleges breach of contract. Plaintiff asserts that the insurance claim it brought is covered under the policy and no exclusions apply to deny coverage. (Id. ¶ 18). Thus, defendant breached its obligations under the policy according to the plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 19). Plaintiff asserts that AISLIC has the obligation to honor the policy as having begun on March 1, 2004 for a five (5) year term. (Id. ¶ 21). Plaintiff seeks the amount of the covered loss, consequential damages, incidental damages, interest and costs.

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint 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. (Id. ¶¶ 1-5). The plaintiff is a Pennsylvania corporation with a principal place of business in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania, and the defendant is a citizen of New York. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 3). 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 defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 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 pled "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 complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. 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

Defendant's motion raises two issues: 1) whether the complaint should be dismissed because plaintiff's claims are barred due to plaintiff's failure to read the terms of the contract in a timely manner; and 2) whether plaintiff's claims are barred by ...


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