United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Cahaba Valley Health Services,
Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 6). The Motion has been
fully briefed (see Docs. # 6, 10) and is ripe for
review. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion
is due to be denied.
action arises out of a state court case, Cahaba Valley
Health Services v. Jackson Business, LLC, et al., No. CV
2013-900049, which was filed on June 28, 2013. The plaintiff
in that case -- Cahaba Valley Health Services
(“Cahaba”) -- asserted state law claims against
Bravo Food Service LLC (“Bravo”). (Doc. # 1 at
8-9, ¶¶ 16-17).
March 23, 2019, the jury in that case returned a verdict in
favor of Cahaba Valley Health Services. (Id. ¶
20). The state court entered judgment against Bravo Food
Service LLC on three counts (see Id. ¶¶
20-22), and awarded Cahaba damages in the amount of $850,
in this case, Great American Alliance Company (“Great
American”), insures Bravo under a SAFEPAK Business
Owners Insurance policy. (Id. at 3). Under the terms
of the policy, Great American agreed to:
pay those sums that the Insured becomes legally obligated to
pay as damages because of “bodily injury, ”
“property damage, ” or “personal and
advertising injury” to which this insurance applies. We
will have the right and duty to defend the Insured against
any “suit” seeking those damages. However, we
will have no duty to defend the Insured against any
“suit” seeking damages for “bodily injury,
” “property damage, ” or “personal
and advertising injury” to which this insurance does
not apply. We may at our discretion, investigate any
“occurrence” or offense and settle any claim or
“suit” that may result.
(Id. at 82).
1, 2019, Great American filed this case seeking a declaratory
judgment that it owes neither a defense nor indemnity to
Bravo. (Doc. # 1). Great American argues it does not owe
coverage because: (1) under the relevant terms of the
insurance policy, pure economic loss is outside of the
policy's terms; and (2) there is no coverage under the
Policy for the state-court jury verdict against Bravo.
(Id. at 10-11, ¶¶ 25, 32).
25, 2019, Cahaba filed its own declaratory judgment action
against Great American in state court alleging that Great
American “owes Bravo Foods full coverage for the
underlying verdict, ” which Cahaba is entitled to.
(Doc. # 10-2 at 11). Great American removed the action to
this court on July 30, 2019. (Doc. # 10-2 at 2). On September
20, 2019, this court granted Great American's Motion for
Realignment of the Parties and Motion to Consolidate. (Doc. #
15). Cahaba's state-court declaratory judgment action was
consolidated with Great American's declaratory action.
This court properly has subject-matter jurisdiction over the
parties, and both declaratory judgment actions are before the
20, 2019, Cahaba, which stands in Bravo's shoes in this
action, filed its Motion to Dismiss Great American's
declaratory judgment, arguing that (1) the claim for
declaratory judgment is barred by Alabama's six-year
statute of limitations for breach-of-contract claims, and (2)
the pendency of the underlying state court action in Bibb
County Circuit Court warrants dismissal. (Doc. # 6 at 3-4).
Standard of Review
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.
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.
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.Appx. 136, 138 (11th
Cir. 2011) (unpublished) (quoting Am. Dental Assn. 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
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.