Ringo v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
ORDER granting 4 Motion to Dismiss; but Ringo may re-serve his complaint by 3 February 2016 to proceed on his breach-of-contract claim. The Court grants Ringo leave to amend to omit his bad-faith claim, and related punitives claim, which are dismissed without prejudice. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 11/5/2015. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY
1. Donnie Ringo bought an insurance policy from State Farm. The
parties disagree about exactly what property was insured. Ringo paid
premiums for many years. In 2013, a structure on the Tennessee Street
property burned, and Ringo tried to file a claim. His State Farm agent said the
Tennessee Street property wasn't insured and kicked Ringo out of his office.
Ng 2 at 2. Ringo has sued alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Ng 2 at 2-3.
State Farm moves to dismiss for insufficient service of process and failure to
state a bad faith claim. Ng 4. FED. R. Crv. P. 12(b)(6).
2. State Farm's motion is granted on service-with leave for Ringo to re-
serve the company correctly by 3 February 2016. That is Ringo's original 120day service deadline, which hasn't run yet.
3. State Farm's motion is also granted on bad faith. Taking all the factual
allegations in the complaint as true, Ringo hasn't stated a claim. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). An insurer acts in bad faith if it's "dishonest,
malicious, or oppressive in an attempt to avoid its liability under an insurance
policy." Aetna Casualty and Surety Company v. Broadway Arms Corporation, 281
Ark. 128, 133, 664 S.W.2d 463, 465 (1984). Maliciousness is characterized by
hatred, ill will, or a revengeful spirit. Aetna, 281 Ark. at 134, 664, S.W.2d at
465. Negligence or bad judgment doesn't suffice. Watkins v. Southern Farm
Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, 2009 Ark. App. 693, at 13, 370 S.W.3d 848,
856 (Ark. App. 2009). Accepting Ringo's allegations as truth, his State Farm
agent acted rudely and unprofessionally. All this, though, isn't enough. Bad
faith requires more. Compare, e.g., Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance
Company v. Allen, 326 Ark. 1023, 1028, 934 S.W.2d 527, 530 (1996) (lying about
coverage and actively concealing coverage); Employers Equitable Life Insurance
Company v. Williams, 282 Ark. 29, 30-31, 665 S.W.2d 873, 873-74 (1984) (policy
of delaying payment and altering claims records); Aetna, 281 Ark. at 134-135,
664 S.W.2d at 465-66 (threatening to report transaction to the IRS to pressure
insured to settle).
Motion to dismiss, NQ 4, granted; but Ringo may re-serve his complaint
by 3 February 2016 to proceed on his breach-of-contract claim. The Court
grants Ringo leave to amend to omit his bad-faith claim, and related punitives
claim, which are dismissed without prejudice.
D.P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
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