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Frantz v. Nationwide Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 15, 2018

DAVID FRANTZ, Individually and as Guardian and Parent of M.F., a Minor, Plaintiffs,


          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

         Presently before me is the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 2) filed by Defendants Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Nationwide Insurance Company, and Nationwide Insurance (collectively, “Nationwide” or “Defendants”). Plaintiff David Frantz (“Mr. Frantz”) commenced this action against Nationwide after it denied coverage under a homeowners policy of insurance for injuries sustained in an ATV accident by Mr. Frantz's minor son M.F. Because Plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the motion to dismiss will be granted, but Plaintiffs will be given leave to file an amended pleading.

         I. Background

         The facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows:

         On or about November 1, 2013, M.F. was operating an off road ATV on his father's property at 974 Molasses Valley Road, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania. (See Doc. 1-1, ¶ 5). There is a local off road trail adjacent to this property. (See id. at ¶ 6). M.F. attempted to access this trail, but as he did, he was struck by a motor vehicle. (See id.). M.F. was thrown from the ATV and suffered severe and permanent injuries. (See id. at ¶ 7).

         At the time of the accident, Mr. Frantz had in effect a homeowners insurance policy that was purchased from Nationwide for the property at 974 Molasses Valley Road. (See id. at ¶¶ 3, 8). That policy provided coverage for personal injury loss, property damage, and bodily injury up to $300, 000.00. (See id. at ¶ 9).[1] At the time of his son's accident, Mr. Frantz and M.F. resided at the insured property. (See id. at ¶¶ 1, 10).

         After the incident, Mr. Frantz notified Nationwide of his son's injury and filed a claim. (See id. at ¶ 12). At the time of the filing of the Complaint, though, Nationwide had not investigated or otherwise responded to the claim. (See id. at ¶ 13).

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs filed an action against Nationwide in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. (See Doc. 1-1, generally). Plaintiffs assert claims against Nationwide for breach of contract (Count I), negligent misrepresentation (Count II), unjust enrichment (Count III), and statutory and common law bad faith (Count IV). (See id.). Nationwide removed the action to this Court on March 2, 2018, (see Doc. 1, generally), and filed a motion to dismiss on March 8, 2018. (See Doc. 2, generally). The motion to dismiss is now fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 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. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “Under the ‘notice pleading' standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         When resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “a court must consider no more than whether the complaint establishes ‘enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary elements' of the cause of action.” Trzaska v. L'Oreal USA, Inc., 865 F.3d 155, 162 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Connelly v. Lane Constr. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 789 (3d Cir. 2016)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, a court must take three steps: (1) identify the elements of the claim; (2) identify conclusions that are not entitled to the assumption of truth; and (3) assume the veracity of the well-pleaded factual allegations and determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief. See Connelly, 809 F.3d at 787 (citations omitted). “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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)).

         III. Discussion

         Nationwide's motion to dismiss will be granted. First, Plaintiffs fail to adequately plead a breach of contract cause of action action in Count I of the Complaint. The elements necessary to plead a breach of contract claim under Pennsylvania law are: “(1) the existence of a contract, including its essential terms[;] (2) a breach of the contract; and, (3) resultant damages.” Meyer, Darragh, Buckler, Bebenek & Eck, P.L.L.C. v. Law Firm of Malone Middleman, P.C., 137 A.3d 1247, 1258 (Pa. 2016) (citing J.F. Walker Co., Inc. v. Excalibur Oil Grp. Inc., 792 A.2d 1269, 1272 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2002)). Although not specifically stated in the Complaint, Plaintiffs appear to claim that Nationwide breached the terms of the insurance policy by failing to provide personal liability and/or medical coverage for the injuries sustained by M.F.

         Under the terms of the policy and Endorsement H-6184, Coverage E, personal liability, “does not apply to: . . . f) bodily injury to you or an insured as defined in Section II - Liability definitions 5.a) and 5.b).” (See Doc. 2, Ex. “2”, H3 and H-6184) (emphasis in original). Insured, under Section II, is defined as “you and the following persons if residents of your household at the residence premises: a) your relatives; . . .” (Id. at ΒΆ 1) (emphasis in original). Based on the facts as alleged in the Complaint, Coverage E does not apply. Specifically, M.F. is alleged ...

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