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Bloxham v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 9, 2019



          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge.

         Presently 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.

         I. Background

         The facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 9) are as follows:

         On or 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).

         On or 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).

         By 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.).

         Plaintiffs 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).

         Prior 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 ¶ 16).

         Based 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.).

         On June 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.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal 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.”).

         III. ...

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