United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
JOSEPH J. RANIELI, Plaintiff
STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant
M. MUNLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court for disposition is Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company's (hereinafter
“defendant”) motion to dismiss portions of
plaintiff's complaint. The parties have briefed their
respective positions, and the matter is ripe for disposition.
Joseph J. Ranieli was operating a motor vehicle in a
southerly direction on Main Street, Dupont, Luzerne County,
Pennsylvania on July 27, 2009. (Doc. 1-1 ¶¶ 4, 7).
His automobile was rear-ended while stopped at a red traffic
light by an automobile driven by Eugene Anderson.
(Id. ¶¶ 8-9).
accident caused plaintiff to suffer, inter alia, the
following injuries: cervical disc disease, cervical facet
syndrome, cervical strain, disc bulge with superimposed disc
protrusions, lumbar strain, headaches, anxiety and
depression. (Id. ¶ 10).
had an automobile insurance policy issue through Defendant
State Farm Insurance. Plaintiff sought underinsured motorist
benefit under the policy seeking the policy limits, but the
defendant denied the claim. Plaintiff then filed the instant
complaint, asserting the following causes of action against
the defendant: 1) Breach of Contract, (Doc. 1-1, ¶¶
16 - 23); and 2) Bad Faith pursuant to 42 Pa. Cons. Stat.
Ann. § 8371. (Id. ¶¶ 24 - 29). The
breach of contract cause of action seeks compensatory
damages, punitive damages, interest, cost of suit and
attorney's fees. (Id. foll. ¶ 23). The bad
faith claim seeks the same damages. (Id. foll.
¶ 29). Defendant has moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the bad faith
claim and the claim for attorney's fees and punitive
damages in the breach of contract count. The parties have
briefed their respective positions, bringing the case to its
court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity statute, 28
U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is a citizen of Pennsylvania.
(Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶ 2). Defendant State Farm is
incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois with its
principal place of business in Bloomington, Illinois.
(Id. ¶ 8). Thus, defendant is a citizen of
Illinois. (Id. ¶ 9). Additionally, the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Id. ¶ 11).
Because complete diversity of citizenship exists among the
parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the
court has jurisdiction over this case. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 (Adistrict courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of
different states[.]@); 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (A defendant can
generally move a state court civil action to federal court if
the federal court would have had original jurisdiction to
address the matter pursuant to the diversity jurisdiction
statute). As a federal court sitting in diversity, the
substantive law of Pennsylvania shall apply to the instant
case. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d
Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tomkins, 304 U.S.
64, 78 (1938)).
filed its motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The court tests the
sufficiency of the complaint's allegations when
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. All well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint must be viewed as true and in
the light most favorable to the non-movant to determine
whether, “‘under any reasonable reading of the
pleadings, the plaintiff may be entitled to
relief.'” Colburn v. Upper Darby Twp., 838
F.2d 663, 665-66 (3d Cir. 1988) (quoting Estate of Bailey
by Oare v. Cnty. of York, 768 F.2d 503, 506 (3d Cir.
1985)). The plaintiff must describe “‘enough
facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will
reveal evidence of' [each] necessary element” of
the claims alleged in the complaint. Phillips v. Cnty. of
Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556
(2007)). Moreover, the plaintiff must allege facts that
“justify moving the case beyond the pleadings to the
next stage of litigation.” Id. at 234-35. In
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint the court may also
consider “matters of public record, orders, exhibits
attached to the complaint and items appearing in the record
of the case.” Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran
& Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 n.2 (3d Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). The court does not have to accept legal
conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences. See
Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Acad. of Wilmington, Del.,
Inc., 450 F.3d 130, 133 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Morse
v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.
federal rules require only that plaintiff provide “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief, ” a standard which
“does not require detailed factual allegations, ”
but a plaintiff must make “a showing, rather than a
blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief that rises above
the speculative level.” McTernan v. N.Y.C.,
564 F.3d 636, 646 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations and internal
quotations and quotation marks omitted). The “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 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Such
“facial plausibility” exists “when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[T]he factual
detail in a complaint [cannot be] so undeveloped that it does
not provide a defendant the type of notice of claim which is
contemplated by Rule 8.” Phillips, 515 F.3d at
232 (citation omitted). “Though a complaint ‘does
not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.'” DelRio-Mocci v. Connolly Props.,
Inc., 672 F.3d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
noted above, defendant seeks dismissal of two aspects of the
complaint. First, it seeks the dismissal of the bad faith
claim and second it seeks the dismissal of certain damages
sought under the breach of contract claim. We will address
these issues in turn.