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Allen v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, District of Nevada

March 16, 2015

MICHAEL S. ALLEN, as Parent and Legal Guardian of WYATT L. ALLEN, a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

ORDER

Presently before the court is defendants State Farm, et al.’s motion to dismiss. (Doc. # 7). Plaintiff Michael S. Allen, as parent and legal guardian of Wyatt L. Allen, a minor, filed a response (doc. # 11), and defendants filed a reply (doc. # 12).

I. Background

This matter involves insurance claims arising from an automobile collision. (Doc. # 11 at 7). On or about May 9, 2013, plaintiff and his son were involved in a motor vehicle accident. (Doc. # 11 at 7). Plaintiff was driving and his son was riding as a passenger. (Doc. # 11 at 8). Plaintiff alleges that the accident occurred because of the negligence of an adverse driver. (Doc. # 11 at 8). Plaintiff further alleges that his son suffered serious bodily injuries and damages. (Doc. # 11 at 8).

Plaintiff alleges that, prior to the May 9, 2013, accident he purchased a $100, 000 uninsured/underinsured motorist policy from State Farm. (Doc. # 11 at 9). The policy covered plaintiff and plaintiff’s relatives who resided with him at the time of the collision, including plaintiff’s son. (Doc. # 11 at 9).

On or about August 9, 2013, plaintiff made a demand on State Farm for the amount of the policy limits. (Doc. # 11 at 9). Plaintiff alleges that State Farm “refused to properly evaluate [his] demand, ignoring much of his pain and suffering, injuries, and damages, and has not made any reasonable offers to settle his claims.” (Doc. # 11 at 9).

Plaintiff filed suit in the Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County, Nevada on September 9, 2014, alleging breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing – bad faith, and violations of the Unfair Claims and Practices Act. (Doc. # 11 at 9-11). Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages. (Doc. # 11 at 11).

Defendants removed the action to federal court on November 14, 2014. (Doc. # 1). Defendants now move the court to dismiss plaintiff’s claims for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, move for a more definite statement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(e).

II. Legal Standard

A court may dismiss a plaintiff’s complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide “[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citation omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (citation omitted).

In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint. Id. at 1950. However, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 1950. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by only conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 1949. Second, the court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 1950. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 1949.

Where the complaint does not “permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged, but it has not shown, that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (internal quotations and alterations omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, plaintiff's claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

The Ninth Circuit addressed post-Iqbal pleading standards in Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The Starr court stated, “First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.” Id.

III. Discussion

Plaintiff asserts three causes of action: breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing – bad faith; and violations of the Unfair Claims Practices Act. State Farm asserts that each of plaintiff’s claims are insufficiently pled. (Doc. # 7 at 1). Plaintiff responds that he does not have to “lay out every detail of his case within ...


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