United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
JAY C. ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss Defendants'
Malicious Prosecution Counterclaim (Rec. Doc. 23)
filed by Plaintiff/Counterdefendant Republic Fire and
Casualty Insurance Company (“Republic”).
Defendants/Counterclaimants Mardechria Charles and Derrick
McDonald oppose this motion (collectively referred to as
“Counterclaimants”). (Rec. Doc. 28). The motion,
set for submission on November 15, 2017, is before the Court
on the briefs without oral argument. This matter is set to be
tried to a jury beginning on May 21, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.
seeks dismissal of Counterclaimants' claim pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that
Counterclaimants have failed to state a
“plausible” claim for relief. Having considered
the motion and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the
applicable law, the Court finds that Republic's motion
should be GRANTED for the reasons set forth
matter arises out of a house fire that occurred in Vacherie,
Louisiana at a home owned by Mardechria Charles. On June 20,
2017, Republic-insurer of the home-brought suit against Ms.
Charles and her husband Derrick McDonald seeking declaratory
judgment and restitution. Republic's Complaint seeks a
judicial declaration that Republic owes no further payments
under the subject policy of insurance and that Republic is
entitled to reimbursement of the payments it has made on
behalf of Ms. Charles in connection with the fire. (Rec. Doc.
1). Republic presents several arguments for denying coverage
to Ms. Charles, but Republic's main argument contends
that the fire was intentionally set by Mr. McDonald with Ms.
Charles having knowledge of the scheme. Id. at p.
13, ¶ 48 (“Coverage is excluded under the
Intentional Loss exclusion of the policy because the fire was
intentionally set by Derrick McDonald, insured under the
policy, at the direction of Charles, as evidenced by
telephone records and other evidence.”).
alleges to have discovered the episode of arson after
conducting an independent investigation of the home.
Id. at p. 5, ¶ 24. After Ms. Charles notified
Republic about the fire on July 10, 2016, Republic retained
an expert to investigate the cause and origin of the fire.
Id. The expert's findings included: (1) that
there were two separate and distinct areas of origin of the
fire, (2) both of the areas of origin were intentionally set,
and (3) the item first ignited was gasoline vapor and the
source of the ignition was an open flame. Id. at
¶ 26. Republic then provided information concerning the
fire to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal. (Rec. Doc. 23-1,
pp. 4-6). Republic alleges that the Fire Marshal then
investigated the fire and determined that the fire was
intentionally set by Mr. McDonald. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 5, ¶
30). Subsequently, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Mr.
McDonald under the charge of simple arson of an inhabited
dwelling in connection with the subject fire. Id.
However, the charges against Mr. McDonald were ultimately
dropped by the St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney
on September 14, 2017. (Rec. Doc. 28-2).
the dismissal of these charges, Mr. McDonald and Ms. Charles
brought a malicious prosecution counterclaim in their Answer,
which Republic seeks to dismiss with the instant motion. Ms.
Charles and Mr. McDonald seek damages in the form of payments
owed pursuant to the terms of Republic's Residential
Homeowners Insurance Policy HI3 0774069 09 12 (the
“Policy”). According to their counterclaim, Ms.
Charles and Mr. McDonald allege that Republic provided
information through a contracted investigator to the
Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office. (Rec. Doc. 18, p.
13, ¶ 8). As a result, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal
investigated the alleged arson and a warrant was ultimately
issued for the arrest of Mr. McDonald. Id. at ¶
10. Ms. Charles and Mr. McDonald aver that the information
provided by Republic was done with the intent to maliciously
prosecute Mr. McDonald for simple arson to deny coverage
under the Policy. Id.
instant motion seeks to dismiss the counterclaim pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Republic argues
that the counterclaim fails to sufficiently plead the
elements of a Louisiana state law claim for malicious
Jurisdiction and Venue
Court has subject matter jurisdiction of this civil action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff Republic is a
legal entity organized and existing under the laws of
Oklahoma, with its principal place of business in Texas.
Counterclaimants are citizens of Michigan. The Court finds
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00.
is proper in this Court because the property that is the
subject of this litigation is located within the geographic
boundaries of the Eastern District of Louisiana. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1391(b)(2) (“A civil action may be brought in .
. . a judicial district in which a substantial part of the
events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a
substantial part of property that is the subject of the
action is situated ___”).
context of a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept all
factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.
Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232
(5th Cir. 2009) (citing Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues &
Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308 (2007); Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Lovick v.
Ritemoney, Ltd., 378 F.3d 433, 437 (5th Cir. 2004)).
However, the foregoing tenet is inapplicable to legal
conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). Thread-bare recitals of the ...