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Jones v. State Farm Fire & Causalty Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 9, 2014

SHARONDA Y. JONES,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CAUSALTY COMPANY

MEMORANDUM

J. FREDERICK MOTZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Sharonda Y. Jones brings this lawsuit against Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company ("State Farm"), asserting breach of contract (Count I), statutory bad faith under 42 Pa. C.S. § 8371 (Count II), and violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL"), 73 P.S. § 201-1 et seq (Count III). Now pending is State Farm's motion to dismiss Counts II and III of Jones' complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. (ECF No. 3).

The motion is fully briefed, and no oral argument is necessary. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants State Farm's motion to dismiss Counts II and III of Jones' complaint.

BACKGROUND

Jones purchased homeowner's insurance from Todd Powers Insurance Agency, Inc. ("Todd Powers"), a State Farm agent, "on or before June 10, 2013" with policy number 38B8C2362. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶ 4-5).[1] The policy was for the real and personal property located at 2114 East Twentieth Street, Erie, PA, with coverage up to $421, 200, 00.00 for the dwelling and $243, 000.00 for the personal property. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. The annual premium was $1, 520.00. Id. ¶ 5.

Jones states she informed a Todd Powers employee that although she did not currently reside in the dwelling at 2114 East Twentieth Street, it was being renovated and that she would move in once the renovations were completed. Id. ¶¶ 23-25. Jones also claims she informed a Todd Powers employee that "she had a previous fire, " which was "one of the reasons why she wanted the insurance." Id. ¶ 21.

On or about June 11, 2013, a fire destroyed the dwelling and all personal property at 2114 East Twentieth Street. Id. ¶ 10. Jones presented State Farm with a claim for the total loss of the dwelling and a personal property loss of $80, 000. State Farm denied payment, citing Jones' failure to disclose in her application that: (1) there had been a previous fire, and (2) she was not using the dwelling as her primary residence. ( Id. ¶¶ 20, 22; ECF No. 7-4).[2] Jones disputes both of these rationales by claiming that she informed a Todd Powers employee when she purchased the insurance that there had been a previous fire, and that the dwelling would become her primary residence once renovations were completed. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶ 21, 23).[3]

Jones filed a complaint against State Farm in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Pennsylvania on June 9, 2014, seeking relief on three counts. (ECF No. 1-1). State Farm removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on June 30, 2014, (ECF No. 1), and filed a motion to dismiss Counts II and III of Jones' complaint on July 7, 2014. (ECF No. 3).

STANDARD

Rule 12(b)(6) motions test the legal sufficiency of a complaint. E.g., Gross v. Stryker Corp., 858 F.Supp.2d 466, 475-76 (W.D. Pa. 2012). A court must separate a complaint's factual allegations from its legal conclusions, first accepting all well-pleaded facts and allegations in a complaint as true and viewing all reasonable inferences drawn from them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. E.g., Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Courts need not, however, accept legal conclusions, including any that are "couched as a factual allegation." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

To survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of a complaint must be sufficient to constitute a "plausible claim for relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). A "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" is insufficient, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, because the plaintiff must allege sufficient verifiable facts that, if true, would constitute a facially plausible basis for relief against the defendant. E.g., Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) ("[T]he factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.") (internal quotation marks omitted). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

ANALYSIS

State Farm moves to dismiss Counts II and III of Jones' complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be ...


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