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Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Co. v. Vignola

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 25, 2017

MUTUAL OF ENUMCLAW INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff(s),
v.
LOUIS VIGNOLA, Defendant(s).

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is defendant Louis Vignola's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 16).[1]Plaintiff Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company (“MOE”) filed a response (ECF No. 24), to which defendant replied (ECF No. 27).[2]. . . . . .

         I. Facts

         This is an action for declaratory relief arising from a 2010 automobile accident in Nevada involving Charles Gilman, Jr. and Nancy Ouellet. Ms. Ouellet was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Gilman was insured under a policy with MOE, covering bodily injury limits up to $100, 000.00 per claim with a $300, 000.00 aggregate limit.

         Ms. Ouellet's estate brought suit in the matter of Vignola v. Gilman, et al., case number 2:10-cv-02099-RFB-GWF (“Vignola”). The case resulted in a verdict for the wrongful death plaintiffs. In particular, on April 27, 2015, the court in Vignola awarded damages as follows: (a) $1, 037, 513 for economic losses, (b) $8, 033, 333 for non-economic damages and (c) $25, 900 for property damages, all totaling $9, 096, 746.00.

         On August 12, 2016. Mr. Gilman entered into an assignment of rights and forbearance agreement, under which Mr. Gilman assigned to defendant Vignola all rights, privileges, claims, causes, or actions that Mr. Gilman may have against MOE.

         On August 22, 2016, Vignola filed a 20-day notice of claim under the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) with the office of the insurance commissioner for the state of Washington. The complaint raised five claims for relief under Washington law arising from MOE's handling of the estate's claim against Mr. Gilman in Vignola: (1) breach of contract; (2) bad faith; (3) IFCA violations; (4) violations of Washington's Consumer Protection Act; and (5) negligence (the “Washington action”). (ECF No. 16 at 9-10).

         On September 1, 2016, MOE filed the underlying complaint for declaratory relief. (ECF No. 1). MOE seeks a declaration that its obligation to indemnify Gilman is subject to policy limits of $100, 000.00. (ECF No. 1).

         On September 12, 2016, Vignola filed suit (the Washington action) against MOE in Washington state court. (ECF No. 16 at 10).

         II. Legal Standard

         A court may dismiss a 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (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, 556 U.S. at 678 (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; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 678-79. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 678.

         Second, the court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 678.

         Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has “alleged-but not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from ...


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