United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Garbis United States District Judge.
Court has before it Defendant The Automobile Insurance
Company of Hartford, Connecticut's Motion to Dismiss, Or
In the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 11]
and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds
that a hearing is not necessary.
Daniel McCullough (“McCullough” or
“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint against Defendant
The Automobile Insurance Company of Hartford
(“Travelers” or “Defendant”), seeking
monetary damages for (1) “insurance procurement fraud
(deceit)”, (2) breach of contract, and (3) failure to
act in good faith. Compl. ¶ 2.
August 2015, Plaintiff's property at 1663 Cliftview
Avenue, Baltimore, MD (the “Property”) suffered
severe damage due to a water leak that flooded the home.
Id. ¶¶ 1, 11, 17. Plaintiff reported the
water damage to Defendant on September 25,
2015. Id. ¶ 18. Defendant
initially assigned the claim to Scott Small (“Mr.
Small”), a Travelers claim representative who conducted
an inspection of the Property on September 30, 2015 with
Plaintiff present. Id. ¶ 17. Mr. Small and
Plaintiff agreed that the source of the water damage was a
fractured water pipe or water supply line. Id. Mr.
Small then resigned from Travelers before further action
could be taken on Plaintiff's claim. Id. ¶
18. Plaintiff alleges that his claim “sat dormant for
weeks, ” which allowed the Property damage to worsen.
Id. During this time, water was still running
through the Property. Id. ¶ 19.
“long period of delay, ” the Defendant's new
claim representative “hired an engineer who then issed
[sic] a report” stating that the water had been
“shut off” at some point in August 2015, without
acknowledging that water had continued to run as of September
30, 2017. Id. ¶ 20. This report and the
statement that the water had been shut off in August 2015 was
used to deny Plaintiff's claim as untimely (i.e., as
having missed the Policy's reporting deadline). Plaintiff
also challenges the engineer's report as unreliable and
inaccurate. Id. ¶ 22.
Plaintiff alleges that during the initial procurement process
and subsequent yearly renewal processes, Travelers would
misrepresent to them that the Policy would cover this type of
damage. Id. ¶¶ 23-27. He also claims that
he suffered emotionally from the strain and stress associated
with his efforts to recover under the Policy. Id.
Court finds it premature to proceed on a motion for summary
judgment prior to any discovery and will treat the motion
solely as a motion to dismiss. In doing so, the Court shall
consider only non-conclusory factual allegations in the
Complaint, and not any materials or exhibits presented that
are not included in the Complaint.
motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a
complaint. A complaint need only contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007)(citations omitted). When evaluating a
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff's well-pleaded
allegations are accepted as true and the complaint is viewed
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. However,
conclusory statements or a “formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action” will not suffice.
Id. A complaint must allege sufficient facts to
“cross ‘the line between possibility and
plausibility of entitlement to relief.'”
Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 193 (4th Cir.
2009)(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
into whether a complaint states a plausible claim is “a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Id. Thus, if the well-pleaded facts contained within
a complaint “do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged
- but it has not shown - that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Id. (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)).
Court appears to have diversity jurisdiction over this
matter. McCullough is a citizen of Maryland and Travelers is
an insurance company organized under the laws of the State of
Connecticut, with its principal place of business in
Hartford, Connecticut, and the parties have not disputed that
the amount in controversy requirement is met. See
Def.'s Statement Concerning Removal, ECF No. 13.
Insurance Procurement Fraud / Fraudulent Inducement
Count One, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant fraudulently
induced him into buying the initial Policy and then renewing
that Policy each subsequent year, when the Policy did not
cover “the extent of benefits” that he had
thought it covered. Id. ¶ 23. Defendant
contends that Plaintiff is not entitled to recover under a