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Atnip v. American General Life Insurance Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 27, 2015

Betty Joe Atnip
v.
American General Life Insurance Company et al

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF: Not Present.

ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT: Not Present.

Honorable JOSEPHINE L. STATON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

PROCEEDINGS: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. 14)

Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant American General Life Insurance Company (hereinafter, " AGL"). (Mot., Doc. 14.) Plaintiff Betty Jo Atnip opposed, and AGL replied. (Opp., Doc. 20; Reply, Doc. 21.) The Court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; C.D. Cal. R. 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing set for January 30, 2015 is VACATED. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2004, AGL issued a $250, 000 term life insurance policy to Plaintiff's now-deceased husband, Rodney Atnip. (Compl., Doc. 1, ¶ 10.) The Policy took effect on August 12, 2004, and listed Plaintiff as the beneficiary. (Id.) Rodney Atnip paid the premiums via monthly automatic bank drafts until May 2011, when the bank draft was " returned unpaid." (Id.) The policy then lapsed after May 12, 2011 -- the date to which it had previously been paid -- and provided no life insurance protection after that date. (Id.) Rodney Atnip died on April 3, 2013. (Id.)

At the time of Rodney Atnip's death, he was suffering from " multiple medical problems" that " caused his life insurance policy to lapse." (Id. ¶ 11.) These problems, combined with emotional stress " stemming from his wife and son's health problems had impaired his decision making process" at the time the policy lapsed such that he " was not capable of making a rationale [sic] decision to terminate his life insurance policy." (Id.)

Following Rodney Atnip's death, Plaintiff requested AGL reinstate the policy on the grounds that " but for Rodney Atnip's irrational act of terminating his policy in May 2011, his ten year term policy beginning August 12, 2004 would have been in effect at the time of his death on April 3, 2013." (Id. ¶ 12.) In support of this, Plaintiff submitted declarations from herself and Rodney Atnip's physician, Dung Trinh, attesting to Rodney Atnip's lack of capacity to make the decision to terminate his life insurance policy. (Id.) Plaintiff demanded that AGL reinstate the policy up to the date of Rodney Atnip's death and pay Plaintiff the $250, 000 policy amount, minus the unpaid monthly premiums. (Id.) AGL did not do so. (Id.)

On July 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed her Complaint against AGL in Orange County Superior Court, asserting a single claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (Compl.) On September 10, 2014, AGL removed the case to this Court. (Notice of Removal, Doc. 1.) AGL now moves to dismiss. (Mot.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949-50, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Rule 12(b)(6) is read in conjunction with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 8(a), which requires only " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). When evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the district court must accept all material allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Moyo v. Gomez, 32 F.3d 1382, 1384 (9th Cir. 1994). " However, where a complaint includes allegations of fraud, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) requires more specificity including an account of the 'time, place, and specific content of the false representations as well as the identities of the parties to the misrepresentations.'" Swartz v. KPMG LLP, 476 F.3d 756, 764 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Edwards v. Marin Park, Inc., 356 F.3d 1058, 1066 (9th Cir. 2004)). " A pleading is sufficient under Rule 9(b) if it identifies the circumstances constituting fraud so that a defendant can prepare an adequate answer from the allegations." Moore v. Kayport Package Express, Inc., 885 F.2d 531, 540 (9th Cir. 1989).

To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). " The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The issue on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim " is not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims" asserted. Gilligan v. Jamco Dev. Corp., 108 F.3d 246, 249 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974)). A complaint must be (1) sufficiently detailed to give fair notice to the opposing party of the nature of the claim so that the party may ...


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