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Morgan v. Americas Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 6, 2017

STACY MORGAN, ET AL.
v.
AMERICAS INSURANCE COMPANY

         SECTION: “H” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 5). For the following reasons, this Motion is DENIED .

         BACKGROUND

         Following a 2015 fire, Hollis Burton hired A-Plus Contractors, LLC (A-Plus) to perform remediation and repairs to his property. Burton was insured for this loss by Defendant Americas Insurance Company (“AIC”). Burton executed a post-lost “Assignment of Insurance Benefits” (“AOB”) form in favor of A-Plus, whereby he assigned all benefits of the policy relative to the 2015 fire claim. Pursuant to this assignment, Plaintiffs seek payment from Defendant for the work completed on the property. On June 15, 2016, Plaintiffs filed suit in Louisiana State Court seeking payment for the repair and remediation costs and damages for breach of contract, negligence, and arbitrary and capricious penalties, attorneys' fees, and general and special damages pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes §§ 22:1973 and 22:658. Defendant removed the matter to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction on August 14, 2016 and promptly filed a Motion to Dismiss.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”[1] A claim is “plausible on its face” when the pleaded facts allow the court to “[d]raw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”[2]A court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true and must “draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs favor.”[3] The Court need not, however, accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.[4]

         To be legally sufficient, a complaint must establish more than a “sheer possibility” that the plaintiffs claims are true.[5] “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action'" will not suffice.[6] Rather, the complaint must contain enough factual allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of each element of the plaintiffs' claim.[7]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         In this Motion, Defendant makes three arguments relative to the sufficiency of Plaintiffs' claims. First, it argues that Stacy Morgan lacks standing to bring this suit. Second, it argues that Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim must be dismissed because there is no contract between AIC and Plaintiffs. Finally, it argues that Plaintiffs' cannot bring claims for statutory penalties and attorneys' fees pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. §§ 22:1892 and 22:1973. The Court will address these arguments in turn.

         I. Stacy Morgan's Standing to Bring this Action

         Defendant first argues that Morgan does not have standing to bring suit against AIC personally pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17, which provides, in pertinent part:

(b) Capacity to Sue or Be Sued. Capacity to sue or be sued is determined as follows:
(1) for an individual who is not acting in a representative capacity, by the law of the ...

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