Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Cap Electric, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 20, 2017

STATE AUTO PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE CO., as subrogee of Milton and Carol McAllister Investment Property LLC d/b/a Bigfoots Steak and Hoagie Restaurant Plaintiff,
v.
CAP ELECTRIC, INC., and DELMARVA POWER AND LIGHT COMPANY, Defendants. CAP ELECTRIC, INC. Cross-Plaintiff,
v.
DELMARVA POWER AND LIGHT COMPANY, Cross-Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge

         Plaintiff State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company, as subrogee of Milton and Carol McAllister Investment Property, LLC d/b/a Bigfoots Steak and Hoagie Restaurant (“Plaintiff” or “State Auto”) has filed this action against Defendants Cap Electric (“CAP”) and Delmarva Power and Light Company (“DPL”) alleging Negligence by both CAP (Count I) and DPL (Count III), Breach of Contract by CAP (Count II), and Gross Negligence by DPL (Count IV) in connection with a fire that destroyed the Bigfoots Steak and Hoagie Restaurant in Rising Sun, Maryland (ECF No. 19.) Based on State Auto's suit, CAP has filed a Crossclaim for indemnification and contribution against DPL. (ECF No. 38.)

         Currently pending before this Court are Defendant DPL's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25) and Cross-Defendant DPL's Motion to Dismiss CAP's Amended Crossclaim (ECF No. 42).[1] The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, DPL's Motion to Dismiss State Auto's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25) is DENIED. In addition, DPL's Motion to Dismiss CAP's Crossclaim (ECF No. 42) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Specifically, it is GRANTED as to CAP's crossclaim for indemnification, which is dismissed, and it is DENIED as to CAP's crossclaim for contribution.

         BACKGROUND

         At the motion to dismiss stage, this Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the Plaintiff's complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011).

         Bigfoots Steak and Hoagie is a sandwich restaurant in Rising Sun, Maryland owned by Plaintiff Milton and Carol McAllister Investment Properties. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 19 at 2.) Prior to June 7, 2015, Bigfoots retained CAP to periodically repair electric equipment and assist in electrical service to the restaurant. (Id. ¶ 8.) Pursuant to the service agreement, CAP upgraded the pre-existing service, installed a new electrical panel/trough, and replaced the electrical meter for the restaurant. (Id.) On or about June 7, 2015, a fire originated on the exterior of the Bigfoots Restaurant building at and in the electrical panel/trough for the restaurant. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that the fire spread from the electrical panel/trough and damaged Bigfoots' real and personal property. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff also alleges the fire was caused by CAP's improper and defective installation of the electrical wiring for the restaurant's electrical meter and the electrical panel/trough. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         The Rising Sun Fire Department responded promptly to the scene of the fire. (ECF No. 19 at ¶ 15.) As the fire's origin was electrical, it created a risk of electrocution to the firefighters. Accordingly, the Rising Sun Fire Department (“RSFD”) notified DPL of the restaurant fire at 12:07 p.m., consistent with the plans for “Priority One” emergencies.[2] (Id. ¶ 15.) When notified, DPL replied that it would “get someone right out there.” (Id. ¶ 16.)

         The fire department, acting in accordance with the training and instructions it received from DPL, suspended fire suppression while it waited for DPL to arrive at the scene. (ECF No. 19 at ¶ 17.) In doing so, the Fire Department did not apply water on a live electrical panel, as doing so would pose an electrocution hazard. (Id. ¶ 18.) Despite repeated assurances from DPL that it would respond promptly to this “Priority One” emergency, it took at least an hour for a DPL Technician to report to the scene. (Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff alleges that on prior occasions, DPL responded to Priority One emergencies in less than 15 minutes after receiving notification of the emergency. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff further alleges that DPL's delay resulted in the Fire Department's inability to suppress the flames, allowing the fire to spread from the electrical panel/trough into the restaurant, causing additional damage. (Id. ¶ 23.) The fire resulted in damages exceeding five hundred thousand dollars ($500, 000.00) to Bigfoots Restaurant. (Id. ¶ 24.) Pursuant to Bigfoots' insurance policy, State Auto supplied insurance coverage for this fire damage and is now subrogated to the claims of Bigfoots. (Id. ¶ 25.)

         On October 28, 2016, Plaintiff State Auto filed its initial Complaint in this Court. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(1)(B) on December 21, 2016. (ECF No. 19.) On January 13, 2017, Defendant DPL filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 25.) In addition, CAP filed a Crossclaim and, later, an Amended Crossclaim for Indemnification and/or Contribution against DPL. (ECF No. 38.) Cross-Defendant DPL then moved to dismiss Defendant CAP's Amended Crossclaim. (ECF No. 42.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Goines v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th Cir. 2016). The sufficiency of a complaint is assessed by reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2), which provides that a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl., Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009).

         In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint'” and must “‘draw all reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted); see Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc., 791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015); Semenova v. Maryland Transit Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017).

         Under limited exceptions, a court may consider documents beyond the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment. Goldfarb v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 791 F.3d 500, 508 (4th Cir. 2015). A court may properly consider documents that are “explicitly incorporated into the complaint by reference and those attached to the complaint as exhibits . . . .” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (citations omitted); see U.S. ex rel. Oberg, 745 F.3d at 136 (quoting Philips v. Pitt Cty Memorial Hosp., 572 F.3d 176, 180 (4th Cir. 2009)); Anand v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 754 F.3d 195, 198 (4th Cir. 2014); Am. Chiropractic Ass'n v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 979 (2004); Phillips v. LCI Int'l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999).

         ANALYSIS

I. DPL's Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint (ECF No. 25) A. Negligence

         In support of its Motion to Dismiss plaintiff's negligence claim (Count III), DPL relies on its Tariff with the Maryland Public Service Commission. Specifically, DPL points ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.