United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MICHAEL PUTNAM, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the defendant's motion for
judgment on the pleadings filed on October 12, 2017. (Doc.
54). The defendant, Colonial Claims Corporation
(“Colonial”),  seeks to dismiss Counts III and IV of
the plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (Doc. 54, p. 1). The
motion has been fully briefed, and the parties have consented
to dispositive jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate
Judge in accordance with 28 U.S.C § 636(c).
STANDARD FOR ASSESSING A MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
seeks dismissal of Counts III and IV pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c), which provides that “[a]fter the
pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial -
a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
“Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there
are no material facts in dispute, and judgment may be
rendered by considering the substance of the pleadings and
any judicially noticed facts.” Hawthorne v. Mac
Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367, 1370 (11th Cir. 1998).
The court must “accept all facts in the complaint as
true and view them in light most favorable to the nonmoving
party.” Cannon v. City of West Palm Beach, 250
F.3d 1299, 1301 (11th Cir. 2001); see also Stanton v.
Larsh, 239 F.2d 104, 106 (5th Cir. 1956) (“the fact
allegations of the complaint are to be taken as true, but
those of the answer are taken as true only where and to the
extent that they have not been denied or do not conflict with
those of the complaint”). To grant the motion, the
moving party must be “entitled to judgment as a matter
of law.” Cannon, 250 F.3d at 1301.
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings is guided by the
same principles established to resolve a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. See Hawthorne, 140 F.3d at 1370
(applying the outdated standard for motions to dismiss as set
forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957), to a
Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings). The United
States Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic v. Twombly
abandoned the framework established in Conley and
While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the
“grounds” of his “entitle[ment] to
relief” requests more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). “[O]nce a
claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by
showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in
the complaint.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563
(2007). The Supreme Court emphasized, however, that “we
do not require heightened fact pleading of specifics, but
only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” 550 U.S. at 570.
Supreme Court expanded on the Twombly standard when
it decided Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009), reiterating the Twombly determination that a
claim is insufficiently pleaded if it offers only
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” The
Court further explained:
Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,
supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. . .
. [O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief
survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint
states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of
Appeals observed, be a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and
common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit
the court to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not
“show[n]”-“that the pleader is entitled to
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citation omitted).
Accordingly, “the court must evaluate the Rule 12(c)
motion in light of the Twombly [and Iqbal]
standard, ” which “requires the court to examine
and assume as true only the factual allegations set forth in
the plaintiff's complaint to determine whether the
undisputed factual allegations raise a plausible cause of
action.” Floyd v. Corder, No. 2:09-cv-916-TMP,
2010 WL 11520487, at *2-*3 (N.D. Ala. Dec. 6, 2010).
complaint, the plaintiff, Wendy Skinner, alleges that the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”)
issued a flood insurance policy to insure her home on May 21,
2015. (Doc. 25, ¶¶ 19, 29; see also
FEMA's Answer, doc. 48, ¶ 19). Colonial and FEMA
identified the flood insurance policy as a Standard Flood
Insurance Policy (“SFIP”) issued by FEMA under
the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”).
(Doc. 31, ¶¶ 18-19; doc 48, ¶
The plaintiff paid all premiums owed on the policy.
that year, on Christmas day, the plaintiff's home flooded
and her personal belongings “were severely damaged as
the result of” the flood and water intrusion. (Doc. 25,
¶ 23). After submitting her claim for benefits, Travis
Allman, a claims adjustor for Colonial, contacted the
plaintiff. FEMA admitted that Colonial “acted as an
independent adjustor on [the] [p]laintiff's
policy.” (Doc. 48, ¶ 18). Allman represented to
the plaintiff that the flood insurance policy would pay her
claim, and he directed her to take an inventory of damaged
belongings and to remove the damaged belongings from her
home. The plaintiff was “repeatedly assured [that] she
would be fully compensated for all personal property damaged
or lost” because of the flood. (Doc. 25, ¶ 32).
However, on February 25, 2016, Allman informed the plaintiff
that she would not be reimbursed for the flood damage to her
personal property. After communicating with other Colonial
agents, the plaintiff “received [a] partial payment for
her contents claim under the” flood insurance policy.
(Doc. 25, ¶ 37).
plaintiff filed the original complaint in the above-styled
action in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama, on
December 14, 2016. Wright National Flood Insurance Company
and Wright National Flood Insurance Services, LLC
(collectively “Wright”), both former defendants,
timely removed the complaint on January 20, 2017 (doc. 1),
and contemporaneously filed a motion to dismiss (doc.