United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ROSE M. REGAN and LOIS PHILLIPS, Plaintiffs,
FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant.
Stewart Cercone United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss (ECF No. 9)
filed by Defendant First National Bank of Pennsylvania
(“First National”). In the complaint, Plaintiffs
Rose M. Regan (“Regan”) and Lois Phillips
(“Phillips”) seek damages arising out of First
National's alleged “failure” to ensure that
the proceeds of a money market account
(“Account”) maintained with First National by
their father, John J. Strahsmeier (“Decedent”),
were paid to Regan upon his death, as he allegedly intended.
The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
For the reasons set forth below, First National's motion
will be granted.
died testate on September 13, 2008, survived by Plaintiffs
and their brother, John T. Strahsmeier. The Account at issue
was created on or about February 13, 2006. Sometime in
October 2006, the Account was converted into a trust account
“in the name of John J. Strahsmeier, ITF Rose
Regan[.]” (Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶ 7). It is
Regan's position that she was to be “the
beneficiary of any and all funds on deposit in that account
at the time of [Decedent's] death.” Id.
“Regan did, in fact, receive the funds on deposit in
the subject account in or about October of 2008 and in May of
2009, in the amount of $149, 200.26.” (Id.
January 2009, Decedent's estate was probated in the
Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of
Allegheny County. Decedent's will “directed that
his residuary estate was to be distributed to all three of
his surviving children in equal shares, subject to a
reduction . . . for a loan made by Decedent to Regan during
his lifetime.” (Id. ¶ 12).
1, 2011, Judge Lawrence O'Toole of the Allegheny County
Court of Common Pleas issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order,
which he ruled, in pertinent part, that “John T.
[Strahsmeier] has presented clear and convincing evidence to
establish that all funds in the [account] are assets of the
estate.” (ECF No. 1-2 at 5). “Despite the title,
” Judge O'Toole concluded, “the account was
meant to be a ‘convenience account' and all estate
assets were to be gathered and deposited into that account
after the Decedent's death.” (Id. at 4).
Thus, Judge O'Toole ordered Regan to deposit the sum of
$149, 200.26, which she had withdrawn, back into the account.
Id. at 5. Plaintiffs filed a motion for
reconsideration of Judge O'Toole's order, which was
denied on July 25, 2011. (ECF No. 1-3).
appealed Judge O'Toole's decision to the Superior
Court of Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 14). In its Opinion,
Superior Court framed the issues as follows:
We must decide whether the orphans' court was correcting
in determining that [John T.] Strahsmeier, as co-executor,
proved by clear and convincing evidence that Decedent, when
he created the ITF Account, had an intent contrary to
Regan's presumed right of survivorship.
(ECF No. 1-4 at 8-9). After reviewing the evidence, the
Superior Court affirmed the decision of the orphans'
court, finding that
[t]he record supports overriding the distribution scheme
enunciated in the [Multiple-Party Accounts Act] because
co-executor [John T. Strahsmeier] proved by clear and
convincing evidence that Decedent had an intent contrary to
Regan's right of survivorship at the time he revised to
the ATF Account to include Regan's name. Because Regan
had no right to the monies in the ITF Account, they must be
returned to the Estate as directed by the orphans' court.
(Id. at 16).
initiated this action on April 26, 2016, by filing a
two-count complaint against First National. In count I, Regan
asserts a breach of contract claim. She “maintains that
she was a third party beneficiary of the contract entered
into between the Decedent and the Defendant for the
establishment of a Totten Trust account no. 97005064, which
was designated as an ‘ITF' account naming Regan as
the beneficiary.” (ECF No. 1 ¶ 16). As such, she
alleges that First National's “failure . . . to
ensure that the account was established in a manner as was
communicated to Defendant by Decedent, to wit, a Totten Trust
account naming Regan as the beneficiary to whom the Account
proceeds were to be payable upon the death of the Decedent,
has caused her to be deprived of a sum in excess of $149,
00.00 [sic].” (Id. ¶ 17). In count II,
Phillips avers that she “has paid substantial sums in
excess of $40, 000 to litigate the matter . . . which
expenditures would not be necessary had the Defendant
properly established the account in accordance with the
intentions of the Decedent.” (Id. ¶ 20).
National moved to dismiss on June 27, 2016. (ECF No. 9).
Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition on July 27, 2016, (ECF
No. 18), to which First National filed a reply on August 5,
2016 (ECF No. 19). The matter is ripe for review.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of a
complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d
Cir. 1993). A complaint must be dismissed for failure to
state a claim if it does not allege “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556
(2007) (rejecting the traditional 12(b)(6) standard set forth
in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957));
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In ruling on a motion to
dismiss, “the Court may consider ...