Eley et al v. The Travelers Insurance Companies, Inc. et al

Filing 16

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING The Travelers Insurance Companies, Inc.'s Motions to Dismiss 6 and The Travelers Indemnity Company, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss 7 for reasons set out in the opinion. Signed by Hon. Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller on 1/4/2010. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Appeals Checklist)(br, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION M IC H A E L ELEY AND LISA ELEY, P la in tif f s , v. T H E TRAVELERS INSURANCE C O M P A N IE S , INC., et al., D e f e n d a n ts. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 2:09-cv-958-MEF (W O ¯ D o Not Publish) MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER I . INTRODUCTION O n October 21, 2009, two of the defendants in this case, The Travelers Insurance C o m p a n ie s , Inc. and The Travelers Indemnity Company, Inc. (collectively "the m o v a n ts " ), filed substantively identical motions to dismiss. (Docs. # 6 and # 7.) The m o v a n ts argue the Court should dismiss them from this case under Federal Rule of Civil P ro c e d u re 12(b)(6).1 For the following reasons, the Court will deny both motions. II. LEGAL STANDARD A Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint against the s ta n d a rd set out in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8: "a short and plain statement of the c la im showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The Court The movants also originally asserted that the Court should dismiss the case under Rules 12(b)(2), (3), (4), and (5). But the movants, after reviewing the plaintiffs' response, voluntarily withdrew these assertions. (Doc. # 15 at 3.) Nonetheless, the Court independently finds that it has jurisdiction over the parties and the case, and that venue is proper in this district. 1 must take the well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola Co., 578 F.3d 1252, 1 2 6 0 (11th Cir. 2009). Even so, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to re lie f that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 570 (2007). I I I . DISCUSSION The movants contend they are not parties to the insurance policy that is the subject o f this suit. This policy was issued to the plaintiffs, Michael and Lisa Eley, by a third d e f e n d a n t, The Automobile Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, Inc., which is a s e p a ra te legal entity from the movants. Asserting that "[a]ll of Plaintiffs' claims arise out o f the policy," the movants argue they are not proper defendants and thus are entitled to b e dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). (Docs. # 6, ¶ 5 and # 7, ¶ 5.) This assertion is wrong on the face of the complaint. The plaintiffs' claims are not f o r breach of the insurance policy itself. Rather, the plaintiffs allege in the sole count of th e complaint that the "Defendants" (a term that necessarily must include the movants)¯ o r, in the fact section of the complaint, "Travelers" (a term that, even if interpreted most n a rro w ly, includes the movants because, of all the defendants, only the movants' names c o n ta in "Travelers")¯made material misrepresentations to the plaintiffs about the status o f the plaintiffs' insurance policy. (Doc. # 1-3 at 4S6.) This led the plaintiffs to believe th e ir house was insured when, in fact, it was not. Consequently, the plaintiffs were not re im b u rs e d for losses they incurred when the house was later burglarized. 2 In other words, this is a cause of action for misrepresentation, not for breach of c o n tra c t. See Army Aviation Ctr. Fed. Credit Union v. Poston, 460 So. 2d 139, 142S43 (A la . 1984) (setting out the elements for the state-law tort of misrepresentation, as found in § 6-5-100 of the Code of Alabama, 1975, and as construed by the Alabama courts); see a ls o Nat'l Sec. Fire & Cas. Co. v. Vintson, 414 So. 2d 49, 51 (Ala. 1982) (holding that a p la in tif f who claimed that an insurance agent misrepresented the moment and time an in s u ra n c e policy would take effect could present a breach-of-contract theory, a m isre p re s e n ta tio n theory, or both theories). Therefore, this Court will not dismiss the m o v a n ts from this case even if they are not parties to the insurance contract. I V . CONCLUSION A c c o rd in g ly, it is hereby O R D E R E D that The Travelers Insurance Companies, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (D o c . # 6) and The Travelers Indemnity Company, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 7), b o th filed on October 21, 2009, are DENIED. D O N E this the 4th day of January, 2010. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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