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State Auto Insurance Co. v. Mays Auto Service, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

April 2, 2018

STATE AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
MAYS AUTO SERVICE, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 4), Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (Doc. # 13), and Defendants' Buttram & Mamucud Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. # 14). The parties have fully briefed Defendants' initial Motion to Dismiss.[1] (Docs. # 7, 8). The court directed the parties to brief the final Motion to Dismiss in accordance with Exhibit B. (Doc. # 15). Yet, Plaintiff has not responded to the motions filed after it submitted the Amended Complaint. Accordingly, the court finds that the motions are under submission and due to be ruled upon. After careful review, the court concludes that Plaintiff's claims for declaratory relief are due to be dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff issued a commercial general liability policy to Defendant Mays Auto Service, Inc., in January 2015. (Doc. # 10 at ¶ 11). In August 2016, Defendants Jennifer Mamucud and Jane Buttram, who represent the estates of two deceased individuals, filed a wrongful-death suit against Mays Auto Service in Alabama state court for claims arising from an accident that occurred in February 2015. (Id. at ¶ 13). In October 2016, Defendants Mamucud and Buttram amended their state-court complaint to include Defendants Scott Mays, David Mays, and Brian Tucker as defendants. (Id. at ¶¶ 15-16). Plaintiff is currently providing a defense to Defendants Mays Auto Service, Scott Mays, David Mays, and Brian Tucker (hereinafter “the Mays Auto Defendants”) in the state-court action. (Id. at ¶ 17).

         In Count I of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the commercial insurance policy it issued to Mays Auto covered bodily injury and property damages arising from the maintenance or use of a “hired auto” or a “non-owned auto.” (Id. at ¶ 20). But, it alleges that the commercial insurance policy does not cover damages arising from the February 2015 accident because the vehicle involved in the accident was not being used by the insured individuals and company. (Id. at ¶ 23). In the alternative, it alleges that the policy does not cover damages arising from the accident because the vehicle was not being used “in the business of Mays Auto Service.” (Id. at ¶ 24). Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that (1) it has no duty to pay a judgment from the state-court action against any of the Mays Auto Defendants, and (2) it has no duty to defend them in the state-court action. (Id. at p. 9-10).

         II. Standards of Review

         Movants have requested dismissal of this action arguing that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). “A federal district court is under a mandatory duty to dismiss a suit over which it has no jurisdiction.” Se. Bank, N.A. v. Gold Coast Graphics Grp. Partners, 149 F.R.D. 681, 683 (S.D. Fla. 1993) (citing Stanley v. Cent. Intelligence Agency, 639 F.2d 1146, 1157 (5th Cir. 1981); Marshall v. Gibson's Prods., Inc. of Plano, 584 F.2d 668, 671-72 (5th Cir. 1978)).

         A Rule 12(b)(1) motion may present a facial attack or a factual attack. Willett v. United States, 24 F.Supp.3d 1167, 1173 (M.D. Ala. 2014) (citing McElmurray v. Consol. Gov't of Augusta-Richmond Cty., 501 F.3d 1244, 1251 (11th Cir. 2007)). “Facial attacks on the complaint ‘require the court merely to look and see if the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject matter jurisdiction, and the allegations in his complaint are taken as true for the purposes of the motion.'” Garcia v. Copenhaver, Bell & Assocs., M.D.'s. P.A., 104 F.3d 1256, 1261 (11th Cir. 1997) (quoting Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)) (other citations omitted and alterations adopted). On the other hand, “factual attacks” challenge “the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside of the pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits, are considered.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). In other words, when a party raises a factual attack to subject matter jurisdiction, the court is not obligated to take the allegations in the complaint as true, but may consider extrinsic evidence such as affidavits. Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel, 657 F.3d 1159, 1169 (11th Cir. 2011).

         When the court is confronted with a factual attack:

[T]he trial court may proceed as it never could under 12(b)(6) or Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Because at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction-its very power to hear the case-there is substantial authority that the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In short, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims.

Lawrence, 919 F.2d at 1529 (quoting Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412-13 (5th Cir. 1981)).

         III. Analysis

         For the reasons explained below, both of Plaintiff's declaratory relief claims are due to be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         A. Plaintiff's ...


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