United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge.
before me is the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc.
16) filed by Defendant Allstate Insurance Company
(“Defendant”). For the reasons that follow, the
motion will be denied.
facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) are as
about March 17, 2017, Nanette and Justin Bloxham
(“Plaintiffs”) purchased an insurance policy from
Defendant which provided coverage for a home at 2082 State
Route 247, Clifford Township, Lackawanna County,
Pennsylvania. (See Doc. 9, ¶ 6). The policy
provided coverage for loss to the dwelling in the amount of
$167, 388.00, personal property loss in the amount of $117,
172.00, and loss of use limited to loss sustained not to
exceed 12 consecutive months. (See id. at ¶ 8).
about May 18, 2017, Plaintiffs sustained an accidental fire
loss to the home and personal property. (See id. at
¶ 9). The home was a total loss. (See id. at
¶ 19). Plaintiffs reported the loss to Defendant and
complied with all requests for information. (See id.
at ¶ 10-11).
correspondence dated May 3, 2018, Defendant denied payment on
the basis that Plaintiffs did not reside at the subject
property. (See id. at ¶ 12 & Ex.
“B”). Therein, Defendant explained:
“Allstate's investigation has determined that
neither Nanette nor Justin resided at the Property. There
were misrepresentations of fact material to the claim,
including, but not limited to misrepresentations related to
residency, condition of the Property prior to the fire,
ownership of the Property, and issues regarding utilities at
the Property.” (Id. at Ex. “B”).
The denial letter also cited the policy language relied on by
Defendant to deny coverage. (See id.).
dispute the decision to deny coverage “and continue to
argue their claim that the property was in fact occupied at
the time of the fire as the Plaintiff, Justin Bloxham, was
residing there and he was making ongoing and continuous
repairs and renovations to the dwelling so he could continue
to reside there.” (Id. at ¶ 13).
to denying Plaintiffs' claim, Defendant took Justin
Bloxham's Statement Under Oath, at which time he produced
a valid driver's license reflecting that his address was
at the Property. (See id. at ¶ 14). He also
testified that he lived at the Property for more than ten
years prior to the fire. (See id. at ¶ 15).
Justin Bloxham slept there and was “settled there and
made that residence his home. [He] had his personal belonging
there and was at the home every day.” (Id. at
on the foregoing, Plaintiffs commenced litigation against
Defendant by filing a Praecipe for Writ of Summons in the
Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.
(See Doc. 1-2, ¶ 1). Plaintiffs subsequently
filed a two-Count Complaint asserting claims for breach of
contract (Count I) and statutory bad faith (Count II).
(See Doc. 1-2, Ex. “A”,
generally). Defendant removed the action to this
Court on March 18, 2019. (See Doc. 1,
generally). Defendant moved to dismiss the
Complaint, (see Doc. 3, generally), and
that motion was granted. (See Doc. 7,
generally). Plaintiffs were, however, given leave to
file an amended pleading. (See id.).
2, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a one-Count Amended Complaint for
breach of contract. (See Doc. 9,
generally). Defendant answered the Amended Complaint
on June 24, 2019. (See Doc. 13, generally).
Thereafter, Defendant filed the instant motion for judgment
on the pleadings. (See Doc. 16, generally).
That motion is now ripe for disposition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides: “[a]fter the
pleadings are closed -- but early enough not to delay trial
-- a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate
“if the movant clearly establishes that there are no
material issues of fact, and he is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Sikirica v. Nationwide Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 214, 220 (3d Cir. 2005). “‘A
motion for judgment on the pleadings based on the defense
that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim is analyzed
under the same standards that apply to a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion.'” Zimmerman v. Corbett, 873 F.3d
414, 417 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Revel v. Port Auth. of
NY, NJ, 598 F.3d 128, 134 (3d Cir. 2010)). “In
considering a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a court
must accept all of the allegations in the pleadings of the
party against whom the motion is addressed as true and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving
party.” Id. at 417-18 (citing Allah v.
Al-Hafeez, 226 F.3d 247, 249 (3d Cir. 2000)). “In
ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, ‘the
court reviews not only the complaint but also the answer and
written instruments attached to the pleadings.'”
Barnard v. Lackawanna Cnty., 194 F.Supp.3d 337, 340
(M.D. Pa. 2016) (quoting Brautigam v. Fraley, 684
F.Supp.2d 589, 591 (M.D. Pa. 2010)); see also L-7
Designs, Inc. v. Old Navy, LLC, 647 F.3d 419, 422 (2d
Cir. 2011) (“On a 12(c) motion, the court considers the
complaint, the answer, any written documents attached to
them, and any matter of which the court can take judicial
notice for the factual background of the case.”).