United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.
Here we consider State Farm Fire and Casualty Company's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 4). With this motion, Defendant requests that the Court strike Plaintiffs' demand for attorney's fees in Count I and dismiss Count II for bad faith. ( Id. at 5.) We conclude the motion is properly granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiffs insured their house in Barnesville, Pennsylvania, with Defendant. (Doc. 1-2 ¶¶ 1-3.) On September 5, 2012, the house suffered damage as a result of a wind and rain storm. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 4.) Wind damaged the roof causing water infiltration into the interior of the home. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 5.) Plaintiffs assert this is a covered loss under the terms of the policy as the policy specifically includes wind storm. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs immediately reported the loss to Defendant, and Defendant sent an adjuster to inspect the loss. (Doc. 1-2 ¶¶ 8-9.) The adjuster advised Plaintiffs to obtain an estimate. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 10.)
Plaintiffs had a local contractor put a tarp on the roof. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 10.) The tarp was ripped off due to Hurricane Sandy. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 10.)
On October 10, 2012, an engineer retained by Defendant inspected Plaintiffs' house. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 11.) The engineer concluded that the cause of the loss was a construction defect on the part of a roofing contractor who had performed work on Plaintiffs' roof in 2002. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 12.)
Plaintiffs had retained a public adjuster who inspected the property and prepared an estimate in the amount of $12, 175.17. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 14.) The public adjuster amended the claim to being a claim for collapse based on Defendant's engineer's report. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 15.) Defendant's engineer had concluded that it was snow loads that exceeded the load capacity of the roof that caused the collapse. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 17.) The collapse caused by weight of ice, snow or sleet is a covered loss under the policy. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 16.)
On November 9, 2012, Defendant sent Plaintiffs correspondence denying the claim. (Doc. 1-2 ¶ 13.)
Plaintiffs filed a two-count Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County containing a claim for Breach of Contract (Count I) and a claim for Breach of Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in Violation of 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8371 (Count II). (Doc. 1-2.) Defendant removed the action to this Court on December 6, 2013. (Doc. 1.) On December 13, 2013, Defendant filed the motion to dismiss under consideration here (Doc. 4), and filed a supporting brief on December 23, 2013 (Doc. 6). Plaintiffs filed an opposition brief on December 31, 2013. (Doc. 7.) Defendant did not file a reply brief and the time for doing so has passed. Therefore, this matter is ripe for disposition.
A. Motion to Dismiss Standard
In a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)). Courts are directed to "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008).
When reviewing a complaint pursuant to a defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court does so in the context of the requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) which requires only "a short and plain statement of the claims showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The "short and plain statement" must be sufficient to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957), abrogated on other grounds by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 (2007). Twombly confirmed that more is required than "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986) (on a motion to dismiss, courts "are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation")). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted).
In McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir. 2009), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals set out the standard applicable to a motion to dismiss in light of the United States Supreme Court's decisions in Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 (2007), ...