Broadway v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER directing that Mr. Broadway's Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Doc. # 78 ) is DENIED, as further set out. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on May 28, 2015. (scn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
) CASE NO. 2:13-CV-628-WKW
STATE FARM MUTUAL
AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is Plaintiff Joseph Broadway’s Motion for Leave to File First
(Doc. # 78.)
Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile
Insurance Company (“State Farm”) opposes the motion. (Doc. # 80.) For the reasons
that follow, the motion is due to be denied.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Mr. Broadway’s motion to amend is governed by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a)(2), which requires that a party wishing to amend his pleadings before
trial obtain the opposing party’s written consent or leave of the court. Fed. R. Civ. P.
15(a)(2). Although “[t]he court should freely give leave when justice so requires,” id.,
the court may deny a motion to amend on numerous grounds, “such as undue delay,
bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure
deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing
party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or] futility of amendment.” Foman
v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962).
An amendment is futile when a claim as proposed would be subject to
dismissal. See Hall v. United Ins. Co. of Am., 367 F.3d 1255, 1263 (11th Cir. 2004).
To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “[F]acial plausibility” exists “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Mr. Broadway seeks to amend his complaint to add an additional count of bad
faith against State Farm. Mr. Broadway’s operative complaint already includes one
claim for bad-faith breach of contract. He seeks leave, however, to add a second badfaith breach-of-contract claim to assert that State Farm’s actions throughout the
present litigation amount to bad faith. Namely, he calls into question State Farm’s
objections to Mr. Broadway’s discovery requests, its decision to “rais[e] a groundless
and baseless defense” in its untimely answer, and its repeated motions to dismiss.
(Doc. # 78, at 1.)
State Farm challenges Mr. Broadway’s newly proposed Count III as futile, and
this court agrees for three reasons.
First, Mr. Broadway’s proposed claim is
duplicative, as he has already alleged a claim of bad-faith breach of contract. Second,
this court is not aware, and Mr. Broadway has failed to offer any case law, that
Alabama law recognizes a bad-faith cause of action founded solely upon a party’s
defense in the underlying litigation. Third, independent research evidences that Mr.
Broadway’s arguments are better suited for consideration as part of his initial and
presently pending bad faith claim. See Nat’s Ins. Ass’n v. Sockwell, 829 So. 2d 111,
137 (Ala. 2002) (approving a punitive damages award on a bad-faith claim which was
based in part on the trial court’s consideration of the insurer’s decision to file an
answer “denying any obligation to pay [the insured] underinsured motorist benefits,”
despite knowing that the claim should have been paid). Accordingly, Mr. Broadway’s
motion is due to be denied.1
In accordance with the foregoing analysis, it is ORDERED that Mr.
Broadway’s Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Doc. # 78) is
DONE this 28th day of May, 2015.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mr. Broadway also has sought leave to amend his complaint to make explicit that his
currently pending claims for breach of contract and bad faith incorporate State Farm’s
“continuous and ongoing” wrongdoing. His operative complaint, however, already sufficiently
alleges ongoing and continuous breaches and bad faith on the part of State Farm. Accordingly,
the additional language is not necessary.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?