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Erbe v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 1, 2015

NICOLE ERBE, Plaintiff(s),
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, et al., Defendant(s).

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty's (hereinafter "State Farm") motion for partial judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. # 9). Plaintiff Nicole Erbe (hereinafter "plaintiff") filed a response, (doc. # 11), and State Farm filed a reply, (doc. # 14).

Also before the court is plaintiff's motion to remand. (Doc. # 13). State Farm filed a response, (doc. # 15), and plaintiff filed a reply, (doc. # 16).

I. Background

Plaintiff is a citizen of Nevada. (Doc. # 14 at 8). State Farm is "an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois." (Doc. # 1 at 4). In her complaint, plaintiff alleges that "Henry Crockett II is a State Farm insurance broker and/or agent, who at all times herein mentioned is conducting business in Clark County, Nevada." (Doc. # 14 at 8). In its petition for removal, State Farm notes that "Crockett is believed to be a Nevada resident." (Doc. # 1 at 4).

On July 13, 2012, plaintiff was involved in an auto accident and filed a claim with her insurer, State Farm. State Farm denied the claim and determined that plaintiff could not enforce her insurance policy because she had not paid her insurance premiums leading up to the accident.

On July 10, 2014, plaintiff filed a complaint in Nevada state court against State Farm, asserting claims for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith, and statutory bad faith under N.R.S. 686A.310. On October 17, 2014, plaintiff served her insurance agent, Henry Crockett II (hereinafter "Crockett") with her complaint. State Farm and Crockett (collectively "defendants") filed a joint answer on November 20, 2014.

After the state court exempted the parties from arbitration, defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims on April 1, 2015. State Farm filed its petition for removal on February 27, 2015, removing the case to this court.

State Farm now moves for partial judgment on the pleadings to dismiss Crockett under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). State Farm alleges that plaintiff fraudulently joined her insurance agent, a Nevada resident, in order to defeat diversity and remain in state court. Plaintiff moves to remand the case to state court because she maintains that she has valid claims against Crockett.

II. Legal Standard

i. Judgment on the pleadings

Motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) are "functionally identical" to motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989). However, a "Rule 12(c) motion, unlike a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, implicates the pleadings as a whole, and not merely the complaint." Amerson v. Cty. of Clark, 2011 WL 4433751, *1-2 (D. Nev. Sept. 21, 2011) ( citing Aponte-Teorres v. Univ. of P.R., 445 F.3d 50, 54-55 (1st Cir. 2006)).

In reviewing a 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court "must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when, taking everything in the pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 486 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2007); Honey v. Distelrath, 195 F.3d 531, 532 (9th Cir. 1999). The allegations of the nonmoving party must be accepted as true while any allegations ...


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