United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is defendant Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance
Company's motion to dismiss the claims brought by pro
se plaintiff Willie Chamblin. (Doc. 13). Mr. Chamblin
filed this case against Liberty, his insurance provider, in
the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama. (Doc. 1-1).
He asserts several state law causes of action against Liberty
based on Liberty's handling of claims that Mr. Chamblin
filed for damage to his home. Liberty removed the case from
state to federal court, invoking this Court's diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1). For
the reasons explained below, the Court grants Liberty's
motion and dismisses Mr. Chamblin's claims.
1989, Mr. Chamblin bought insurance for his home in
Birmingham, Alabama through Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance
Company. (Doc. 12, p. 3). In April of 2011, a tornado damaged
Mr. Chamblin's home. (Doc. 1-1, p. 14). In July of 2011,
Mr. Chamblin's home suffered water damage which caused
mold to grow inside his residence. (Doc. 12, p. 2; Doc. 13-1,
pp. 3-4; Doc. 21, p. 6). The damage to Mr. Chamblin's
home forced him to vacate temporarily and store his personal
belongings while Liberty addressed his claims. (Doc. 12, pp.
to the terms of the insurance contract, Liberty and Mr.
Chamblin submitted Mr. Chamblin's damages claims to two
appraisers, one selected by each party. (Doc. 21, p. 7). The
appraisers agreed on sums to compensate Mr. Chamblin for the
storm damage, the water damage, and the costs that Mr.
Chamblin incurred storing his belongings and finding
temporary accommodations. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 2-4). Mr. Chamblin
alleges that he had to incur living and storage expenses
beyond what Liberty paid him under the appraisal because the
interior damage to his home went unremediated. (Doc. 12, p.
Chamblin filed this case seeking compensatory and punitive
damages for the financial hardship that Liberty allegedly
caused him through its handling of his insurance claims.
Since Liberty removed the case, the Court has held two
telephone conferences with Mr. Chamblin and counsel for
Liberty. After the first telephone conference, the Court
directed Mr. Chamblin to amend his complaint. (Doc. 11).
After Mr. Chamblin amended his complaint, the Court held a
second telephone conference to discuss the pending motion to
dismiss. During that conference, Mr. Chamblin expressed a
desire to obtain the assistance of counsel. (Doc. 21, p. 12).
The Court gave Mr. Chamblin a month to do so, but Mr.
Chamblin continues to represent himself. (Doc. 17).
Rule 8(a)(2), the complaint must contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A motion to
dismiss based on Rule 12(b)(6) asks the Court to dismiss the
complaint because the plaintiff has failed to plead a claim
on which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To
resolve the motion to dismiss, the Court must consider
whether the plaintiff has alleged facts that “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
facts that the plaintiff alleges must be sufficient for the
Court “to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. At the motion to dismiss
stage, the Court “must and do[es] assume that any
well-pleaded allegations in the amended complaint are
true.” Edwards v. Prime, Inc., 602 F.3d 1276,
1284 (11th Cir. 2010). “A pro se pleading is
held to a less stringent standard than a pleading drafted by
an attorney and is liberally construed.” Waldman v.
Conway, 871 F.3d 1283, 1289 (11th Cir. 2017).
“However, a pro se pleading must still suggest
that there is at least some factual support for a
amended complaint, Mr. Chamblin asserts claims for
negligence, breach of contract, and fraud. (Doc. 12). Mr.
Chamblin seeks to recover compensatory damages for the damage
to his personal property and for his pain and suffering and
asks the Court to award punitive damages. Liberty argues that
Mr. Chamblin fails to state a claim because Liberty complied
with its obligations under the insurance contract by paying
Mr. Chamblin the sums awarded through the appraisal that he
requested. (Doc. 13, p. 8). In support of its motion, Liberty
submits a copy of the insurance contract and signed copies of
the appraisals. (Docs. 8-2, 13-1). To resolve this motion,
the Court considers these documents as well as the
representations made by the parties during the December 19,
2017 telephone conference.
the December telephone conference, Mr. Chamblin clarified his
position in response to Liberty's contention that the
appraisals precluded his claims. Mr. Chablin acknowledged
that, with the help of an attorney, he exercised his right
under the contract to have the damage to his home appraised
by independent parties. (Doc. 21, p. 10, 14). Mr. Chamblin
conceded that the appraisal process validly determined the
amount he was entitled to recover for the physical damage to
his home. (Doc. 21, p. 10). But Mr. Chamblin contends that
the appraisal process did not compensate him for the costs he
incurred storing his possessions and renting hotel rooms.
Specifically, Mr. Chamblin stated that “when they [the
appraisers] came up with the appraisal on my personal
property and my living expense, to me it was not fair, and it
was not right, and I didn't agree with it . . . .”
(Doc. 21, p. 10:13-16). Mr. Chamblin does not allege that
Liberty failed to pay the sums assessed in the appraisal. He
states that he “ha[s] a check that [Liberty] sent [him]
for personal property for $6, 800 three years ago”
which he has not cashed.
Chamblin explained that his disagreement with the appraisal
of his “additional living expenses, ” the
expansive term used to cover his ancillary costs, prompted
him to file this case. (Doc. 21, p. 15: 18-19). But the
language of his contract with ...