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Sabbah v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

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

April 18, 2018

IBRAHIM SABBAH, and SABBAH BROTHERS ENTERPRISES, INC, doing business as 14th Street BP, Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONWIDE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY and NATIONWIDE MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Plaintiffs in this case, Ibrahim Sabbah (“Sabbah”), and Sabbah Brothers Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a 14th Street BP (“SBE”), sue Defendants, Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company (“NMFIC”) and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (“NMIC”). On May 11, 2017, at the end of an extensive Memorandum Opinion and Order (doc. 60) directed towards the then-pending Motion To Dismiss (doc. 50), this Court dismissed all claims against the Defendants except the claims for: breach of contract by NMFIC (Count Twelve); breach of contract by NMIC (Count Thirteen); declaratory judgment against NMFIC (Count Fourteen); and declaratory judgment against NMIC (Count Fifteen). These remaining counts arise out of judgments obtained against Sabbah and SBE in four underlying lawsuits and the instant Defendants' refusal to indemnify SBE and Sabbah as to those judgments.

         The case is now before the Court on the Defendants' most recent Motion To Dismiss, filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 76). For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be GRANTED.

         I. STANDARD

         Generally, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require only that the complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). However, to survive a motion to dismiss brought under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (“Twombly”).

         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) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556) (“Iqbal”). That is, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation and footnote omitted). 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 or conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557 (citation omitted).

         Once a claim has been stated adequately, however, “it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Id. at 563 (citation omitted). Further, when ruling on a motion to dismiss, a court must “take the factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing Glover v. Liggett Group, Inc., 459 F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2006)).

         II. ANALYSIS

         In the underlying state court actions, judgments totaling $15, 150, 000.00 were entered against the instant Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs claim that the Defendants should have indemnified them for their loss under the following two insurance policies: a business owners liability insurance policy (Policy No. 77-BO-762-940-3001) (hereinafter the “NMIC Policy”) issued by NMIC to SBE; and a commercial general liability insurance policy with liquor law liability coverage (Policy No. 77 PR 762-940-3007) (hereinafter the “NMFIC Policy”) issued by NMFIC to SBE. The NMIC Policy listed SABBAH BROTHERS ENTERPRISES INC. as the named insured and the NMFIC Policy listed SABBAH BROTHERS ENTERPRISES INC., d/b/a 14TH STREET BP as the named insured.[1] The Defendants claim that the remaining claims in this case are now moot because they have satisfied the judgments in the underlying cases. (Doc. 76 at 3).[2] As they put it:

This is because [the] Plaintiffs' remaining claims and alleged damages are premised entirely on [the] Defendants' failure to indemnify them against the underlying judgments, judgments which have now been satisfied and released. Plaintiffs therefore no longer have a compensable loss and nothing remains for this Court to decide.

         (Doc. 76 at 3).

         Very recently, the Eleventh Circuit has reiterated:

Mootness is a question of law[.] See Christian Coal. of Fla., Inc. v. United States, 662 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2011).
Article III of the Constitution limits federal court jurisdiction to cases and controversies. See Id. at 1189. Accordingly, federal courts cannot offer advisory opinions on moot questions or on abstract propositions. See Id. And federal courts cannot declare principles or rules of law outside those implicated by the matter directly before them. Se ...

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