United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
METROPOLITAN GROUP PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff
WILLIAM HACK, Defendant
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge.
Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company
("Metropolitan") commenced this action for
declaratory judgment and fraud against defendant William Hack
("Hack"). (Doc. 1). Hack moves to dismiss for lack
of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For
the reasons that follow, the court will grant the motion in
part and deny it in part.
Factual Background & Procedural History
is an insurance company that maintains its principal place of
business in Warwick, Rhode Island and is licensed to issue
policies in Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1 ¶ 1). Hack resides in
Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 2). Metropolitan issued a
personal automobile insurance policy to Hack's sister
("the policy"), and it potentially covers Hack
through that policy. (Id. ¶ 5; Doc. 1-2 at 2).
December 21, 2014, Pennsylvania State Police officers
responded to reports that a motor vehicle had collided with a
home in Dublin Township, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1 ¶¶
9-10). A driver lost control of his motor vehicle and crashed
into the home Hack shared with his sister at approximately
2:15 a.m. (Id. ¶¶ 10-11). The vehicle
struck the home on the first floor directly below the second
floor bedroom where Hack was sleeping. (Id. ¶
18). During an interview with Metropolitan, Hack stated that,
as a result of the impact, he "flew out [of bed], hit
the desk, [and] broke the desk." (Id.) Hack
explained that, after the collision, he went downstairs to
determine whether anyone was injured. (Id. ¶
17). He remained downstairs for the rest of the evening.
experienced persistent pain in his right arm and shoulder and
noticed numbness in his fingertips after the accident.
(Id.) Hack self-treated with ibuprofen for a few
months before obtaining treatment. (Id.) His doctor
diagnosed C5-C6 disc injuries and a pinched nerve.
(Id.) Hack subsequently submitted an insurance claim
under the policy wherein he averred that the accident caused
these physical injuries. (Id. ¶ 16).
retained an accident reconstruction expert in the course of
investigating Hack's claim. (Id. ¶ 26). The
expert's report indicates that the accident likely did
not cause Hack's injuries. (Id. ¶ 28). It
explicitly provides that the vehicle that hit Hack's home
would have had to move the entire house to throw Hack out of
his bed and onto his desk. (Id.) The report opines
that this scenario is "unequivocally impossible, "
concluding that Hack's story "would require the
[momentary] suspension of the Laws of Physics."
initiated the instant action with the filing of a complaint
on June 30, 2016. (Doc. 1). Therein, Metropolitan asserts a
claim for declaratory judgment and a common law fraud claim
with a demand for punitive damages. Hack filed a motion (Doc.
6) to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction and
failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). The motions are fully
briefed and ripe for disposition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides that a court may
dismiss a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Such jurisdictional
challenges take one of two forms: (1) parties may levy a
"factual" attack, arguing that one or more of the
pleading's factual allegations are untrue, removing the
action from the court's jurisdictional ken, see
Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549
F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977); or (2) they may assert a
"facial" challenge, which assumes the veracity of
the complaint's allegations but nonetheless argues that a
claim is not within the court's jurisdiction, see
Tolan v. United States, 175 F.R.D. 507, 510 (E.D. Pa.
1998). In either instance, it is the plaintiffs burden to
establish jurisdiction. See Mortensen, 549 F.2d at
891. Courts should grant a Rule 12(b)(1) motion only when it
appears with certainty that assertion of jurisdiction would
be improper. See Gould Elecs. Inc. v. United States,
220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000); see also Tolan, 176 F.R.D.
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for
the dismissal of complaints that fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When
ruling on a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court
must "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. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d
Cir. 2008). In addition to reviewing the facts contained in
the complaint, the court may also consider "matters of
public record, orders, exhibits attached to the complaint and
items appearing in the record of the case." Oshiver
v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380,
1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994); Pension Ben. Guar. Corp. v.
White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir.
notice and pleading rules require the complaint to provide
"the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests." Phillips,
515 F.3d at 232 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To test the sufficiency of the
complaint, the court must conduct a three-step inquiry.
See Santiago v. Warminster Twp., 629 F.3d 121,
130-31 (3d Cir. 2010). In the first step, "the court
must 'tak[e] note of the elements a plaintiff must plead
to state a claim.'" Id., at 130 (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 675 (2009)). Next,
the factual and legal elements of a claim should be
separated; well-pleaded facts must be accepted as true, while
mere legal conclusions may be disregarded. Id. at
131; see also Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d
203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Once the court isolates the
well-pleaded factual allegations, it must determine whether
they are sufficient to show a "plausible claim for
relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. A claim "has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal 556 U.S. at
should grant leave to amend before dismissing a curable
pleading in civil rights actions. See Fletcher-Harlee
Corp. v. Pote Concrete Contractors, Inc., 482 F.3d 247,
251 (3d Cir. 2007); Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp.,
293 F.3d 103, 108 (3d Cir. 2002). Courts need not grant leave
to amend in dismissing non-civil rights claims pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6), Fletcher-Harlee Corp., 482 ...