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.

Republic Fire and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Charles

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 4, 2018

REPUBLIC FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY
v.
MARDECHRIA CHARLES AND DERRICK MCDONALD

         SECTION A (1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JUDGE JAY C. ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before 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.

         Republic 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 below.

         I. Background

         This 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.”).

         Republic 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).

         From 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.

         Republic's 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 prosecution.

         II. Jurisdiction and Venue

         The 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.

         Venue 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 ___”).

         III. Legal Standard

         In the 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 ...


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.