REAVES v. NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY
OPINION. Signed by Judge John Michael Vazquez on 3/7/2017. (ld, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT Of NEW JERSEY
Not for Publication
Civil Action No. 2:16-cv-04375
NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY,
John Michael Vazguez, U.S.D.J.
The present matter comes before the Court on Defendant New York Life Insurance
Company’s (“Defendant” or “New York Life”) motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state
a claim.1 Pro Se Plaintiff Jacquelyn Reaves (“Plaintiff’) does not oppose this motion. This motion
was decided without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78 and Local Civil
Rule 78.1. The Court has considered Defendant’s submission, conducted an independent review
of the issues, and grants Defendant’s motion.
The facts are derived from Plaintiffs Complaint (“Compl.”).2 Plaintiff alleges that in
January 2005 Defendant “illegally advised [plaintiff] to live beyond [her] financial means at 22 as
a new College Graduate, which Resulted in insurniountable, compounding debt, that [she] (to this
‘Defendant’s brief in support of its motion to dismiss the Complaint will be referred to hereinafter
as “Def. Br.” (D.E. 5-1).
When reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts in the
complaint. Fowler v. UPliCShadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009).
day) [has] been unable to rebound from.” Id. at 2. Plaintiff was employed as an insurance agent
for Defendant in 2005 after she “received a call from the Vice President” of the company. Id. at
4. Plaintiff interviewed for the position and was told she would earn over $100,000 in her first
Because “this business was
year and would also receive “residuals” from the company. Id.
commissiononly,” Plaintiff “was responsible for funding [her] own work.” Id. While employed
by Defendant, Plaintiff alleges that she “depleted [her] financial resources to stay in business as a
new graduate (and a minority).” Id.
In response to Plaintiff notifying Defendant that she “could not afford to live,” an
unidentified person from New York Life allegedly advised Plaintiff “to open a high balance credit
card” and “get a good accountant.” Id. Additionally, Plaintiff observed that “while [her] client
base was diverse, the business prospects [she] received from the Vice President were from people
in low socioeconomic areas,” whereas the “male agents in the office were to people in affluent
areas, ready to buy.” Id.
Plaintiff alleges she was not paid for “explaining the purpose of
insurance” or “discussing nuances in the financial marketplace” with her clients. Id.
Plaintiff claims she was in debt by the time she resigned from New York Life. Id. Her
“overhead exceeded $50,000 in insurance business related debt
[and she] was living on [her]
credit cards.” Id. at 4-5. After resigning, Plaintiff took a position at PNC Bank as a Licensed
Financial Consultant. Id at 5. Plaintiffs résumé indicates that she worked at PNC Bank from
2006 to 2007, suggesting that she ended her employment with New York Life prior to 2006. Id.
at 7. Additionally, Defendant attaches Plaintiffs resignation letter to its motion to dismiss, in
which Plaintiff states that her resignation is valid as of January 23, 2006. Thus, it appears that the
facts alleged took place sometime prior to 2006.
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff filed her Complaint in New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County, on March 1,
2016. D.E. 1, Ex. A. Defendant removed the case to this Court on July 18, 2016. Id. In lieu of an
answer, Defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint on July 28, 2016. Def. Br. Plaintiff did not
oppose Defendant’s motion.
Defendant argues that dismissal is warranted because Plaintiff fails to plead a timely or
legally cognizable cause of action. Id. at 5. Defendant contends that Plaintiff’s Complaint makes
conclusory statements and fails to reference any statute or law that Defendant violated. Id. at 9.
Additionally, Defendant asserts that any claims made by the Plaintiff are time-barred by the statute
of limitations, given that Plaintiff filed her complaint in 2016, over a decade afler ending her
employment with New York Life in January 2006. Id. at 10.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a defendant to move to
dismiss a count for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted[.]” To withstand a
motion to dismiss under Rule l2(b)(6), a plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Att. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A
complaint is plausible on its face when there is enough factual content “that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ash croft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although the plausibility standard “does not impose a probability
requirement, it does require a pleading to show more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Connellv v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 786 (3d Cir. 2016) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). As a result, a plaintiff must “allege sufficient facts to raise
a reasonable expectation that discovery will uncover proof of [his] claims.” Id. at 789.
In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, a district court must accept all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Phillips v. Cy. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008).
A court, however, is “not
compelled to accept unwarranted inferences, unsupported conclusions or legal conclusions
disguised as factual allegations.” Baraka v. McGreevey, 481 f.3d 187, 211 (3d Cir. 2007). If,
after viewing the allegations in the complaint most favorable to the plaintiff, it appears that no
relief could be granted under any set of facts consistent with the allegations, a court may dismiss
the complaint for failure to state a claim. DeFazio v. Leading Edge Recovery Sols., No. 10-2945,
2010 WL 5146765, at *1 (D.N.J. Dec. 13, 2010).
Because Plaintiff is proceedingpro Se, the Court construes the pleadings liberally and holds
them to a less stringent standard than those filed by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972). “The Court need not, however, credit apro se plaintiffs ‘bald assertions’ or ‘legal
conclusions.’” D’Agostino v. CECOMRDEC, No. 10-4558, 2010 WL 3719623, at *1 (D.N.J.
Sept. 10, 2010) (citing Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 f.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997)).
A. failure to State a Claim
Even construed liberally, the Court cannot determine any alleged causes of action in the
Complaint. Plaintiff sets forth no counts, she cites to not statues, and she fails to indicate any
specific cause of action. Her sole allegation seems to be that she was advised (by some unknown
person who worked for Defendant) to secure a credit card which she could not afford. Plaintiff
makes a reference to her sex and her status as a minority but does not do so in connection with any
alleged liability. Instead, she claims that due to her sex and minority status, she suffered a greater
“hanm” In other words, those criteria (sex and minority status) are alleged to increase her damages
but are not plausibly pled in connection with Defendant’s alleged liability. This recitation of factual
allegations, without more, is insufficient to plausibly state a legal cause of action. See Kassin v.
US. Postal Serv., No. 11-1482, 2011 WL 6002836, at *2 (D.N.J. Nov. 30, 2011) (finding that a
pro se plaintiffs discussion of factual allegations, without specifying a legal cause of action, was
insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss). Thus, Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed without
prejudice. Plaintiff may file an amended Complaint within thirty days, if she so chooses.
B. Statute of Limitations
Defendant argues that Plaintiffs allegations took place in 2005, at the time she worked for
New York Life. Def. Br. at 1. Since these claims are over a decade old, Defendant argues, they
are barred by any applicable statute of limitations. Id. This argument appears plausible given the
sheer length of time that has transpired since Plaintiffs employment with New York Life and the
filing of her complaint
approximately ten years. However, without first knowing what the
underlying causes of action is or are, the Court cannot determine the appropriate statute of
limitations, much less whether the statute of limitations has been violated. Moreover, the Court
cannot determine whether any potential exception, such as equitable tolling, applies. Therefore,
Defendant’s motion to dismiss based on a violation of the statute of limitations is denied without
If Plaintiff files an amended Complaint, and Defendant believes it appropriate,
Defendant may later move to dismiss based on any applicable statute of limitations.
In sum, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
The Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss based on a violation of the statute of
limitations. Plaintiffs Complaint is dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff has thirty (30) days to
file an amended complaint that plausibly sets forth a cause of action, if she so chooses. If Plaintiff
does not do so, this matter will be dismissed with prejudice, which means that Plaintiff will not be
able to bring another suit against Defendant based on the facts set forth in her Complaint. An
appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
Date: March 7, 2017
UNITED STATES DIhUCT IJUDGE
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