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Bick v. State Farm Fire And Casualty

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 31, 2019

RANDY BICK, Plaintiff,


          Cynthia Reed Eddy Chief United States Magistrate Judge

         Presently pending before the court is a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 7) filed by defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (“State Farm”). For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be granted in part and denied as moot in part.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On July 10, 2019, Plaintiff Randy Bick filed a Complaint (ECF No. 1, hereinafter “Compl.”) against State Farm, her homeowner's insurance carrier, for breach of contract (Count I) and bad faith pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8371 (Count II). The insurance claim arose from an incident on July 15, 2018 when a tree fell through the roof of her home (“the Property”) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The insurance policy at issue is a homeowners insurance policy numbered 38-N5-5614-3 (“the Policy”) which provided coverage for accidental and direct physical loss to the property. (Compl. ¶ 9, 10). Plaintiff filed a claim (“the Claim”), defendant accepted coverage for the Claim in part: it is alleged State Farm has underestimated and/or underpaid and/or partially denied coverage for certain of the damages incurred. (Compl. ¶ 16). State Farm has issued payments to Plaintiff in the amount of $37, 511.99. (Compl. ¶ 17). According to her adjuster, the damage to the Property is valued at $192, 124.22. (Compl. ¶ 18).

         On August 2, 2019, State Farm filed the motion to dismiss and brief in support (ECF Nos. 7, 8). Plaintiff has filed a response (ECF No. 13) to which State Farm has filed a reply. (ECF No. 14). The matter is now ripe for consideration.

         We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         II. Standard of Review

         A motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993). In deciding a motion to dismiss, the court is not opining on whether the plaintiff will likely prevail on the merits; rather, when considering a motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint and views them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. U.S. Express Lines Ltd. v. Higgins, 281 F.3d 383, 388 (3d Cir. 2002). While a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must provide more than labels and conclusions. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Id. (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level” and “sufficient to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.... Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant's liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (internal citations omitted).

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit instructs that “a court reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint must take three steps.” Connelly v. Lane Constr, Corp., 809 F.3d 780 (3d Cir. 2016). The court explained:

First, it must “tak[e] note of the elements [the] plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675. Second, it should identify allegations that, “because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. at 679. See also Burtch v. Milberg Factors, Inc., 662 F.3d 212, 224 (3d Cir. 2011) (“Mere restatements of the elements of a claim are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” (citation and editorial marks omitted)). Finally, “[w]hen there are well-pleaded factual allegations, [the] court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

809 F.3d at 876-77. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (internal citations omitted)

         While a District Court is generally limited to a plaintiff's complaint in assessing a motion to dismiss, when a document is “integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint [, it] may be considered without converting the motion [to dismiss] into one for summary judgment.” In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir.1997) (internal quotations omitted). Plaintiff has attached the Policy to the Complaint. (ECF No. 1-1).

         III. Discussion

         State Farm seeks partial dismissal, specifically dismissal of Count II, which alleges bad faith, on the grounds of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. It also seeks dismissal of certain demands for damages, specifically, compensatory, consequential and/or incidental damages for allegations of bad faith at Count II, as well as the demand for attorney's fees for the breach of contract claim at Count I. In her response, Plaintiff concedes the demand for attorney's fees at ...

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