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Clemens v. New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 24, 2014



RICHARD P. CONABOY, District Judge.

We consider here the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6)/Motion to Strike Pursuant to Rule 12(f). (Doc. 7). This motion has been fully briefed (Docs. 8 & 9) by the parties and is now ripe for disposition. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background.

This action arises from a motor vehicle accident of August 26, 2009. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 5-9). Plaintiffs allege that they were seriously and permanently injured as a result of the accident and that they were named insureds under a policy of insurance issued by the Defendant on the date of the accident. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 5-7). Plaintiffs allege further that the aforementioned insurance policy provided $50, 000.00 in uninsured motorist benefits ("UIM") and that Plaintiff Bernie Clemens was injured when the vehicle in which he was a passenger was struck by a vehicle operated by one Ana Burrell. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 8 & 9).

On June 21, 2011, Plaintiff sought consent to settle his claim against Ms. Burrell's carrier. (Doc. 1, ¶ 17). Defendant gave its consent to the third party settlement on July 20, 2011. (Doc. 1, ¶ 18). Even before settling the third party claim, Plaintiff had notified the Defendant of a possible UIM claim by letter dated April 1, 2010. (Doc. 1 ¶ 12). Defendant acknowledged the UIM claim by letter dated April 12, 2010 and assigned an adjustor to said claim. (Doc. 1, ¶ 13).

Between April of 2010 and July 15, 2013, Plaintiffs allege that numerous telephone conversations were had and items of correspondence were exchanged with Defendant's agents concerning Plaintiff's efforts (1) to obtain a status report from the Defendant regarding its claim investigation; (2) to schedule an arbitration of the IUM claim, and (3) to schedule Plaintiff's "Statement Under Oath". (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 12-39). On May 25, 2011, during the time the aforementioned matters were being discussed by the parties, Plaintiffs submitted a demand letter to Defendant detailing their injuries and supporting documentation including medical records, photographs and authorizations requested by Defendant. (Doc. 1, ¶ 16).

On August 26, 2013, Plaintiffs brought suit in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas alleging breach of contract and "bad faith" pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 8371. Defendant invoked 28 U.S.C. § 1441 and filed its Notice of Removal to this Court on September 24, 2013. The pending motion seeks to dismiss Plaintiff's bad faith count and/or to strike various paragraphs of the Complaint that support the bad faith count.

II. Motion to Dismiss Standard.

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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 433 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009).

"[T]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that relief is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The Court emphasized that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 1950. Moreover, it continued, "[d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. (citation omitted).

McTernan, 577 F.3d at 530. The Circuit Court discussed the effects of Twombly and Iqbal in detail and provided a road map for district courts presented with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim in a case filed just a week before McTernan, Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009).

[D]istrict courts should conduct a two-part analysis. First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated. The District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions. [ Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.] Second, a District Court must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 1950. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege a plaintiff's entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show" such an entitlement with its facts. See Philips v. Co. of Alleghany, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir.2008)

Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210-11.

The Circuit Court's guidance makes clear that legal conclusions are not entitled to the same deference as well-pled facts. In other words, "the court is not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation.'" Guirguis v. Movers Specialty Services, Inc., No. 09-1104, 2009 WL 3041992, at ...

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