United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge
before me is the Motion to Dismiss Count II of
Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 2) filed by Defendant GEICO
Advantage Insurance Company (“GEICO”).
Specifically, GEICO contends that the Complaint filed by
Plaintiff Eugene Peters (“Peters”) fails to set
forth sufficient facts to support a claim for an alleged
violation of Pennsylvania's bad faith statute, 42 Pa.
C.S.A. § 8371. Because Peters fails to state a bad faith
cause of action, the motion to dismiss will be granted, but
he will be given the opportunity to file an amended complaint
to state a plausible bad faith claim.
facts as alleged in the Complaint are as follows:
8, 2017, Peters was operating his Jeep Patriot in an easterly
direction on Jackson Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
(See Compl., ¶ 5). At the same time, Luis Reyes
was traveling in a southerly direction on Main Avenue in
Scranton, Pennsylvania. (See id. at ¶ 6). Reyes
failed to stop at a red traffic signal thereby striking
Peters' vehicle and causing Peters to strike a parked
vehicle. (See id. at ¶ 7). As a result of the
accident, Peters suffered severe and permanent injuries,
incurred medical expenses, and had his earning capacity
impaired. (See id. at ¶¶ 7-8). At the time
of the accident, Peters was insured under an automobile
policy (the “Policy”) issued by GEICO that
included underinsured motorist coverage. (See id. at
December 2018, Reyes, through his insurer, offered the limits
of his policy to Peters. (See id. at ¶ 9). The
following month, GEICO gave permission to Peters to accept
Reyes' offer, and GEICO also recognized Peters'
underinsured motorist claim. (See id. at ¶ 10).
January 18, 2019, Peters “made a written demand of
underinsurance as supported by a medical report.”
(Id. at ¶ 14). The records “establish
that the Plaintiff has suffered serious injuries” and
“that the Plaintiff followed a course of treatment with
a number of medical providers.” (Id. at ¶
15). Despite Peters fully complying with the terms and
conditions of the Policy, GEICO has failed to pay the
underinsured motorist claim. (See id. at
on the foregoing, Peters filed a two-Count Complaint against
GEICO in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County on
June 6, 2019. (See Compl., generally).
Therein, Peters asserts claims for breach of contract (Count
I) and bad faith (Count II). (See id.,
removed the action to this Court on July 1, 2019.
(See Doc. 1, generally). On July 3, 2019,
GEICO moved to dismiss the bad faith claim in Count II of the
Complaint. (See Doc. 2, generally). The
motion to dismiss is now ripe for disposition.
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)).
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
seeks dismissal of the bad faith claim in Count II of the
Complaint. (See Doc. 2, generally).
Pennsylvania law allows an insured party to receive punitive
damages and other relief if the insurer acts in bad faith