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Tyrone Barnes v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

February 15, 2013

TYRONE BARNES
v.
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE CO.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLaughlin, J.

MEMORANDUM

This case arises out of a fire and resulting damage to the plaintiff's residence and his ensuing claim for fire loss under a homeowners insurance policy with the defendant, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co. ("Allstate"). The plaintiff, Tyrone Barnes, claims that Allstate's investigation into his claim and its decision to deny coverage for his loss exhibit bad faith, and its refusal to make payment on the policy constitutes a breach of the parties' insurance contract. In response, Allstate has filed a counterclaim for civil insurance fraud. Barnes now moves to dismiss Allstate's counterclaim for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

The Court will grant in part and deny in part Barnes' motion.

I. Factual and Procedural Background Barnes commenced the present suit against Allstate on June 15, 2012. In his complaint, Barnes alleges that a fire broke out in his Philadelphia home on July 30, 2011, while he slept, resulting in significant fire and smoke damage to the dwelling and its contents. That same day, Barnes filed a claim for his losses under his homeowners insurance policy with Allstate. Eight months later, on March 30, 2012, Allstate denied coverage due to "Concealment or Fraud" on Barnes' part, stating that it "do[es] not cover any loss or occurrence in which any insured person has concealed or misrepresented any material fact or circumstance." Barnes alleges in his complaint that Allstate's decisionmaking evidences bad faith and its denial constitutes a breach of the insurance contract between the parties.*fn1 Compl. ¶¶ 11-17 & Ex. A (3/30/12 Letter from H. Kelly to T. Barnes).

Allstate thereafter filed its answer, containing affirmative defenses and a counterclaim for civil insurance fraud. Allstate claims that Barnes "intentionally and fraudulently misrepresented facts about the alleged loss" sustained as a result of his home fire in violation of the Pennsylvania Insurance Fraud statute. Specifically, Allstate avers that, when making a claim for fire and smoke damage under his insurance policy, Barnes "fraudulently misrepresented and concealed" the following facts, which are quoted verbatim from Allstate's answer:

(a) Facts concerning the details of the loss;

(b) Facts concerning Plaintiff's activities on the date of loss;

(c) Facts concerning Plaintiff's activities following the loss;

(d) Facts concerning Plaintiff's contacts with individuals following the loss;

(e) Facts concerning availability of material witnesses following the loss;

(f) Facts concerning his claim for Additional Living Expenses under the Policy following the loss;

(g) Facts concerning cancellations by Plaintiff of inspections of the Property following the loss;

(h) Other facts which may be learned.

The answer alleges that Barnes' misrepresentations and concealments were done knowingly and with the intent to commit insurance fraud. Allstate seeks recovery of expenses relating to its investigation of Barnes' claim, costs ...


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