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Days v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

June 30, 2017

JEANNETTE H. DAYS, Plaintiff,
v.
STONEBRIDGE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 3 0.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is GRANTED. However, Plaintiff shall have fourteen days to submit an amended complaint correcting the deficiencies identified in this order. Plaintiff is on NOTICE that failure to do so will result in dismissal of this case.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the death of Plaintiff's husband, Benjamin Days Sr., in an accident that occurred on April 21, 2008. (Doc. 1, Attach. 1 at 2.) Mr. Days was covered at the time of his death by life insurance policies[1] issued by Defendant.[2] (IdJ Both policies included three possible schedules for recovery-identified in the relevant documents as "Part[s]." (Doc. 6, Attachs. 2-5.) Part I provided coverage for injuries incurred by reason of travel by common carrier, Part II provided coverage for injuries occurring during travel by passenger automobile and land motor vehicle accidents, and Part III provided coverage for all other injuries. (Id.) Following her husband's death, Plaintiff sought recovery of benefits under the life insurance policies. (Doc. 1, Attach. 1 at 2.)

         Defendant paid benefits to Plaintiff under Part III of both policies for injuries unrelated to a passenger automobile or land motor vehicle accident. (Id.) On August 27, 2014, Plaintiff filed suit in the State Court of Chatham County seeking payment under Part II, interest on the unpaid benefits from the date of Mr. Days's death, and all associated costs and fees incurred in prosecuting this action. (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff's complaint stated that Mr. Days "died as a result of a bicycle accident, " but did not allege that a motorized vehicle was involved.[3] (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff asserts in her complaint that Defendant wrongfully declined to pay benefits under Part II of the policies. (Id. at 2-4.) Plaintiff also claims that Defendant acted in bad faith when it withheld the benefits to which Plaintiff was allegedly entitled under Part II. (Id. at 3.) Defendant subsequently invoked this Court's diversity jurisdiction and removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1.)

         On October 3, 2014, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 6, Attach. 6.) In the motion, Defendant argues that the complaint failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted and that Plaintiff's breach of contract claim was barred because Plaintiff had failed to file suit within a contractually specified period of time. (Id.) Plaintiff responded that she had sufficiently put Defendant on notice as to the claims against it and that Plaintiff's claims were not time barred because the contractual limitations in the insurance policies were tolled. (Doc. 8.)

         On September 14, 2015, this Court entered an order deferring ruling on the motion to dismiss pending supplemental briefing regarding the appropriate choice of law. (Doc. 26.) Following that supplemental briefing, the Court determined that Illinois law was applicable to the case. (Doc. 29.) The Court also dismissed Plaintiff's claim for bad faith failure to pay to the extent it was predicated on Ga. Code. Ann. § 33-4-6. (Id.) Defendant filed a renewed Motion to Dismiss following that ruling. (Doc. 30.) In this motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot maintain a claim for breach of contract because Plaintiff's husband was killed in a bicycle accident and Plaintiff is attempting to recover for a land motor vehicle accident. (Id.) Moreover, Defendant contends that the statute of limitations has run on Plaintiff's claim. (Id.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 (a) (2) requires a complaint to contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief."w [T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require 'detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Aschroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotations omitted). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Id. (internal quotations omitted).

         When the Court considers a motion to dismiss, it accepts the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true. Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1260 (11th Cir. 2009) (abrogated on other grounds by Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority, 566 U.S. 449 (2012)). However, this Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Moreover, "unwarranted deductions of fact in a complaint are not admitted as true for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of [plaintiff's] allegations." Sinaltrainal, 578 F.3d at 1268 (citing Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., 416 F.3d 1242, at 1248 (11th Cir. 2005)). That is, "[t]he rule 'does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead 'simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element." Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 12.89., 1295-96 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 545).

         Finally, courts are generally precluded from considering anything beyond the face of the complaint when analyzing a motion to dismiss. Brooks v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1368 (11th Cir. 1997) . However, "in cases in which a plaintiff refers to a document in its complaint, the document is central to its claim, its contents are not in dispute, and the defendant attaches the document to its motion to dismiss, " a court may analyze that document in ruling on the motion to dismiss. Fin. Sec. Assur., Inc., v. Stephens, Inc., 500 F.3d 1276, 1284 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Harris v. Ivax Corp., 182 F.3d 799, 802 n.2 (11th Cir. 1999); Brooks, 116 F.3d at 1368-69) . In this case, the insurance policies underlying this case meet these requirements. As a result, the Court may review and consider the insurance policies when ruling on Defendant's motion.

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS

         A. Breach of ...


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