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Myers v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 6, 2017



          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Allegations of Bad Faith from Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 5.) For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This action arises from an underinsured motorist claim filed by Plaintiff Kathleen Myers with her insurer, Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Plaintiff asserts one count against Defendant alleging breach of contract for the denial of Plaintiff's claim and one count alleging that Defendant acted in bad faith as defined under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8371.

         A. Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that on September 2, 2015, Plaintiff suffered serious injuries as a result of a car accident with an underinsured motorist. (Compl. ¶ 8, Notice of Removal Ex. A, ECF No. 1.) The underinsured motorist was determined to be at fault in causing the accident, and the underinsured motorist's insurance company provided Plaintiff with the maximum liability coverage available of $15, 000. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 9-10.) Plaintiff alleges that she suffered harm in excess of $15, 000. She therefore filed a claim for underinsured motorist benefits with Defendant. (Id. ¶ 11.) Defendant denied Plaintiff's claim. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         Count One of Plaintiff's Complaint alleges breach of contract asserting that Plaintiff is entitled to recover underinsured motorist benefits from Defendant. (Id. ¶ 13.) Count Two of Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that in handling Plaintiff's underinsured motorist claim, Defendant acted in bad faith as provided in 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8371. (Id. ¶ 15-21.) With respect to Count Two, Plaintiff specifically alleges that Defendant failed to act with “reasonable promptness in evaluating and responding to Plaintiff's claim, ” failed to act with “reasonable fairness in the offers [Defendant] made to Plaintiff, ” “fail[ed] to negotiate Plaintiff's underinsurance claim, ” “fail[ed] to properly investigate and evaluate Plaintiff's underinsurance claim, ” and “failed to promptly request that Plaintiff submit to a defense medical examination.” (Id. ¶ 17-18.) Defendant seeks dismissal of the bad faith claim.

         B. Procedural History

         On July 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. On August 4, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) On August 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Answer to the Notice of Removal and a Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 4.) On August 10, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. (MTD, ECF No. 5.) On August 11, 2017, Defendant filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (Def. Resp. ECF No. 7.) On August 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 8.) On August 21, 2017, a Memorandum and Order were filed denying Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 9, 10.) On August 22, 2017, Defendant filed a Reply in Support of its Motion to Dismiss. (Def. Rep. Br., ECF No. 11.)


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), “[a] pleading that states a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Rule 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint against the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

         A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. A complaint that merely alleges entitlement to relief, without alleging facts that show entitlement, must be dismissed. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 211 (3d Cir. 2009). Courts need not accept “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements . . . .” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. at 679. This ‘“does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element.” Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         In determining whether dismissal of the complaint is appropriate, courts use a two-part analysis. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. First, courts separate the factual and legal elements of the claim and accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true. Id. at 210-11. Next, courts determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a “‘plausible claim for relief.'” Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Given the nature of the two-part analysis, “‘[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.'” McTernan v. City of York, 577 F.3d 521, 530 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

         III. ...

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