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Teodoro v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 13, 2018

TANYA TEODORO, individually, and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS

          ANDREW P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In March 2016, plaintiff Tanya Teodoro was involved in an automobile accident. As a result, she incurred medical and hospital charges of approximately $85, 000. She provided her automobile insurer, defendant Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company (Allstate), with her bills. Her Allstate policy included medical payments coverage of $100, 000. Allstate paid approximately $45, 000 of the bills.[1]

         Now, Teodoro sues Allstate, in her individual capacity and on behalf of a proposed class. She claims that the terms of her insurance policy require Allstate to pay the entirety of her medical expenses. She brings claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of Nevada's Deceptive Trade Practices Act, violation of Nevada's Unfair Claims Practices Act, and unjust enrichment. Allstate moves to dismiss both the individual and class claims, arguing that Teodoro does not have standing because she has not alleged an actual injury, that her claims fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Nevada Division of Insurance (NDOI), and that she has failed to sufficiently allege the elements of her claims. Allstate also contends that class action treatment is inappropriate because individualized factual issues would predominate. I grant both of Allstate's motions.

         I. ANALYSIS

         A properly pleaded 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 Ad. 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). "Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must "contain[] enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 696 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         I must apply a two-step approach when considering motions to dismiss. Id. at 679. First, I must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences from the complaint in the plaintiffs favor. Id.; Brown v. Elec. Arts, Inc., 724 F.3d 1235, 1247-48 (9th Cir. 2013). Legal conclusions, however, are not entitled to the same assumption of truth even if cast in the form of factual allegations. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; Brown, 724 F.3d at 1248. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by only conclusory statements, do not suffice. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Second, I 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 complaint alleges facts that allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 663. 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. at 679 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). When the claims have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, the complaint must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a context-specific task that requires [me] to draw on [my] judicial experience and common sense." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

         Allstate initially argues that the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over Teodoro's claims because she has not alleged an injury in fact and thus has no standing and her claims are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the NDOI. Teodoro responds that she has alleged an injury: the difference between the amount Allstate paid her and what she alleges is its contractual obligation to pay. She also argues that her claims stem from Allstate's alleged breach of contract, and that any mention of NDOI was only supportive, rather than a basis for her claims.

         1. Standing

         Article III of the U.S. Constitution confines the federal judicial power to actual "cases or controversies." U.S. Const, art. Ill. § 2; Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016). The "irreducible constitutional minimum of standing consists of three elements. The plaintiff must have (1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision." Spokeo, 136 S.Ct. at 1547 (internal quotation omitted).

         Teodoro has alleged that she incurred over $80, 000 in medical bills, that Allstate is contractually obligated to pay the entirety of these charges, and that it did not do so. Thus, Teodoro has alleged an actual injury of the money she believes she is owed under the insurance policy.

         2. Nevada Department of Insurance

         In Nevada, a plaintiff challenging violations of the insurance code "generally must exhaust all available administrative remedies before initiating a lawsuit." Allstate Ins. Co. v. Thorpe,170 P.3d 989, 993 (Nev. 2007). While her complaint alleges the NDOI did not approve Allstate's actions, Teodoro repeatedly argues that her claims do not rely on this assertion, but rather on Allstate's alleged breach of contract. Moreover, Teodoro's causes of action do not rest on alleged violations of particular sections of the insurance code. Allstate has therefore not shown that Teodoro's claims are within NDOI's exclusive ...


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