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Pickett v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

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

April 3, 2018




         This case is before the court on Defendant State Farm's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Claims for Negligence, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Misrepresentation, Fraud, and Deceit. (Doc. # 2). The court directed the parties to brief the motion in accordance with a briefing schedule (Doc. # 6), but Plaintiff has filed no response to the motion. After careful review, and for the reasons explained below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 2) is due to be granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff purchased an insurance policy from Defendant in September 2014. (Doc. # 1-1 at 7). Plaintiff lost her house in a July 2015 fire. (Id.). She submitted an insurance claim with Defendant, and Defendant partially satisfied the claim. (Id. at 8). Nevertheless, according to Plaintiff, Defendant has failed to pay her for the full amount of losses she suffered. (Id.).

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 F. App'x 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task is context specific and, to survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its “judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that all of the well- pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         Plaintiff has asserted fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit claims against Defendant. (Doc. # 1-1 at 9). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) requires a party pleading fraud to “state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake.” To plead a viable fraud claim, a complaint must state:

(1) precisely what statements were made in what documents or oral representations or what omissions were made, and (2) the time and place of each such statement and the person responsible for making (or, in the case of omissions, not making) same, and (3) the content of such statements and the manner in which they misled the plaintiff, and (4) what the defendants obtained as a consequence of the fraud.

Ziemba v. Cascade Int'l, Inc., 256 F.3d 1194, 1202 (11th Cir. 2001). Plaintiff's misrepresentation and deceit claims also must comply with Rule 9(b)'s standards because, under Alabama law, both claims are fraud-based claims. See Inman v. Am. Paramount Fin., 517 F. App'x 744, 748 (11th Cir. 2013) (applying Rule 9(b) to a negligent misrepresentation claim under Florida law); Ala. Code § 6-5-101 (stating when misrepresentations constitute legal fraud); Ala. Code § 6-5-104 (describing deceit as a “fraudulent” act).

         III. Analysis

         In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit/bad faith claims. (Doc. # 1-1 at 8-9). After careful review, the court concludes that all these claims are due to be dismissed.

         A. Plaintiff Cannot Maintain ...

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