United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. Pittman, United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants State Auto Property and Casualty
Insurance Company (“State Auto P&C”) and
State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company's (“State
Auto MIC”) (collectively “Defendants”)
Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 24), Plaintiff Michael
Harris's (“Harris”) Response (ECF No. 30),
and Defendants' Reply (ECF No. 32). Having considered the
motion, related briefing, and applicable law, the Court finds
that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss should be and is
hereby DENIED as to State Auto MIC and
GRANTED without prejudice as to State Auto
was out of town at his daughter's gymnastics competition
when his house was robbed. Am. Compl. 2, ECF No. 10. Stolen
from Harris were numerous items of personal property,
including jewelry and clothing. Id. Harris alleges
that he was insured against these losses by an insurance
policy issued by Meridian Security Insurance Company
(“Meridian”) and administered by State Auto MIC.
Id. Harris identifies State Auto MIC in his Amended
Complaint using the name “State Auto.”
Id. at 1.
returning home on November 13, 2017, Harris realized he was
the victim of a burglary and notified law enforcement and
State Auto MIC. Id. at 2. State Auto MIC opened a
claim and assigned the claim number
“PR-0000000-191439” to track it. Id. at
3. Harris alleges that he was fully compliant with law
enforcement and State Auto MIC in order to “seek
justice and to be compensated for his losses, ” but
that State Auto MIC embarked on an “unfair, unethical,
unprofessional, deceptive, and illegal pursuit” to
avoid the legal obligation to compensate Harris for his
30 days of the incident, Harris filed a claim and submitted
the requested documents to State Auto MIC so that his claim
could be reviewed and processed. Id. Harris alleges
that State Auto MIC delayed the process and waited almost
four months to send a reservation of rights letter dated
March 13, 2018. In the letter, State Auto MIC indicated that
it was still evaluating coverage and investigating the loss
and requested an examination of Harris under oath, a sworn
proof of loss, copies of Harris's Discover Card and
Sam's Club credit card statements, and an authorization
for State Auto MIC to obtain other documents. Id.
Harris claims he provided the requested proof of loss,
submitted to an examination under oath, and provided the
requested credit card statements. Id. However,
Harris refused the authorization request as he had previously
signed and returned an authorization for State Auto MIC to
obtain documents and did not wish for State Auto MIC to
obtain the medical records and tax returns that it was
seeking in this more recent request. Id.
February 25, 2019, State Auto MIC sent Harris a letter
denying his claim signed by Sherri King, the adjuster who
handled the claim. Id. at 4. The letter cited
Harris's refusal to provide documentation of his loss and
his refusal to sign any authorization to obtain documents
that would help substantiate his claim as the reason for the
denial of coverage. Id. Harris claims the
allegations by State Auto MIC are false and that he complied
with the investigation to the extent that the law required.
Id. Harris provided over 1, 200 pages of documents
and photographs, and signed an authorization for State Auto
MIC to obtain other documents as necessary, only refusing to
allow for medical records and tax documents to be obtained by
State Auto MIC. Id. Harris claims the reasons for
denial stated in the letter were either false or illegal and
did not pertain to the stolen property but rather were
personal matters that should not have been addressed by State
Auto MIC and would not help State Auto MIC determine whether
the stolen items were covered. Id.
filed suit in state court against “State Auto Insurance
Companies.” See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.
Upon removal by Meridian, Harris amended his complaint (ECF
No. 10). In his amended complaint, Harris brought claims for
breach of contract, four violations of the Texas Insurance
Code, and three violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade
Practices Act (“DTPA”). See Am. Compl.,
ECF No. 10. All claims are made against State Auto MIC and
Harris makes no allegations or claims against State Auto
P&C. Id. State Auto MIC, along with State Auto
P&C, filed a motion to dismiss claiming that Harris
failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted
because they did not enter into a contract with Harris.
See generally Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 24. They further
argue that because there was no valid contract between Harris
and State Auto MIC or State Auto P&C, neither may be held
liable for violations of the Texas Insurance Code or DTPA.
See Br. Supp. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 25. The
motion to dismiss is now ripe for review.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires a claim for relief to
contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 8 does not require detailed
factual allegations, but “it demands more than an
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). If a plaintiff fails to satisfy Rule
8(a), the defendant may file a motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) for “failure to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
defeat a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a
plaintiff must plead “enough facts to 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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663 (citing Twombly, 550
U.S. at 556). “The plausibility standard is not akin to
a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 556). “Where a complaint pleads facts that
are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's
liability, it ‘stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of entitlement to
relief.'” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557).
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept all
well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true and view them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Sonnier,
509 F.3d at 675. The Court is not bound to accept legal
conclusions as true, and only a complaint that states a
plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79. When there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court assumes their
veracity and then determines whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement to relief. Id.
a court ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion may rely on the
complaint, its proper attachments, documents incorporated
into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court
may take judicial notice.” Randall D. Wolcott,
M.D., P.A. v. Sebelius, 635 F.3d 757, 763 (5th Cir.
2011) (citations omitted); see also Tellabs, Inc. v.
Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322
(2007). A court may also consider documents that a defendant
attaches to a motion to dismiss if they are referred to in
the plaintiff's complaint and are central to the
plaintiff's claims. Collins v. Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter, 224 F.3d 496, 498-99 (5th Cir. 2000).