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Antiques v. Federal Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 11, 2017

TRISTATE ANTIQUES, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          ROBERT F. KELLY, SR. J.

         Plaintiff Tristate Antiques (“Tristate”) filed suit against Defendant Federal Insurance Company (“Federal”) in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, alleging that Federal breached its obligations under an Inland Marine Policy (the “Policy”). Federal removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1132.

         Presently before the Court are Federal's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Tristate's Response in Opposition/Cross-Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. Federal has filed a Reply Brief, and Tristate has filed a Surreply. Federal has also filed a Motion to Extend Discovery in the event we deny its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. For the reasons noted below, Federal's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is granted, as is Tristate's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. Federal's Motion to Extend Discovery is denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Federal insured Tristate under Inland Marine Policy Number 0661-79-16 EUC, which had a Policy Period of December 8, 2010 to December 8, 2011. (Compl. ¶ 3 (citing Ex. A (“Policy Decl.”)).) Tristate alleged that on or about December 1, 2011, while the Policy was in effect, it suffered a loss “of fine arts and dealers stock and trade” in the amount of $140, 000. (Id. ¶ 4.) Tristate claimed it promptly reported the claim to Federal, but Federal refused to pay as allegedly required under the Policy. (See id. ¶¶ 5, 6.)

         Federal filed an Answer to the Complaint, averring that the Policy was cancelled effective July 15, 2011. (See Def.'s Answer ¶ 4.) The Policy contained a provision where “[t]he first Named Insured may cancel this policy or any of its individual coverages at any time by sending [Federal] a written request or by returning the policy and stating when thereafter cancellation is to take effect.” (Def.'s Mem. Support Mot. J. on Pleadings at 7 (citing Ex. 1 (“Policy”)).) Thus, Federal maintains that it owes no obligations under the Policy because it was cancelled prior to Tristate's alleged December 1, 2011 loss. (See generally id.)

         Tristate filed suit against Federal in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, alleging a sole count of breach of contract. Federal subsequently removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. On August 16, 2017, Federal filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. On August 17, 2017, Federal also filed a Motion to Extend Discovery in the event that we deny its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. On August 30, 2017, Tristate responded to Federal's Motion and cross-moved for leave to file an amended complaint.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Rule 12(c) Standard

         A party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A court may grant a motion for judgment on the pleadings “if, on the basis of the pleadings, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” DiCarlo v. St. Mary Hosp., 530 F.3d 255, 262 (3d Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). “We ‘view[] the facts alleged in the pleadings and the inferences to be drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.'” D.E. v. Cent. Dauphin Sch. Dist., 765 F.3d 260, 271 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Mele v. Fed. Reserve Bank of N.Y., 359 F.3d 251, 253 (3d Cir. 2004)). “A Rule 12(c) motion ‘should not be granted unless the moving party has established that there is no material issue of fact to resolve, and [the moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Id. (quoting Mele, 359 F.3d at 253). “Ordinarily, in deciding a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court considers the pleadings and attached exhibits, undisputedly authentic documents attached to the motion for judgment on the pleadings if plaintiffs' claims are based on the documents, and matters of public record.” Atiyeh v. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co. of Hartford, 742 F.Supp.2d 591, 595 (E.D. Pa. 2010) (footnotes omitted).

         B. Rule 15(a) Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that, when a party cannot amend its pleading as a matter of course, “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave, ” and directs that courts “should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). “Leave to amend must generally be granted unless equitable considerations render it otherwise unjust.” Arthur v. Maersk, Inc., 434 F.3d 196, 204 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). Factors that may justify the denial of leave to amend include undue delay, bad faith, and futility. See id. (citing Lorenz v. CSX Corp., 1 F.3d 1406, 1413 (3d Cir. 1993)). However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has “consistently recognized” that “prejudice to the non-moving party is the touchstone for the denial of an amendment.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Prejudice results when a party changes its “tactics or theories” that results in the non-moving party having “undue difficulty in prosecuting [or defending] a law suit.” Heraeus Med. GmbH v. Esschem, Inc., __ F.R.D.__, No. 14-5169, 2017 WL 2439554, at *2 (E.D. Pa. June 6, 2017) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration in original).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for ...


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