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Brunner v. CUSA PCSTC, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 10, 2015

KURT BRUNNER, Plaintiff,


DEAN D. PREGERSON, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is Defendant CUSA PCSTC, LLC's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Kurt Brunner's Complaint. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the court denies the motion and adopts the following order.

I. Background

On October 14, 2010, Kurt Brunner ("Plaintiff") was a passenger in an airport shuttle when a bus owned by Defendant CUSA PCSTC, LLC ("Defendant") collided with the airport shuttle. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-6.) Plaintiff alleges he suffered serious emotional and bodily injuries due to the collision. (Id. ¶ 7.)

On July 20, 2011, Plaintiff's attorneys sent a letter of representation to Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. ("Sedgwick"), the third party administrator of Defendant's automobile liability policy, placing Defendant and Sedgwick on notice of Plaintiff's injuries from the collision. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) On January 3, 2012, Defendant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware as Case No. 12-10062 ("Bankruptcy Case"). (Id. ¶ 10.) On March 29, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Proof of Claim in the Bankruptcy Case. (Id. ¶ 11.)

On January 3, 2013, Plaintiff's counsel received correspondence from Sedgwick that Plaintiff's claim had been reassigned to claims examiner, Darla Nehaz. (Id. ¶ 13.) Nehaz stated that Plaintiff's claims were currently stayed because of the bankruptcy filing, thus she could not advance the filing of Plaintiff's claim, but requested that Plaintiff submit a "demand package" as she was working on the documentation for the claim. (Id. ¶ 13.) On February 18, 2013, Plaintiff submitted the requested "demand package" and asked to be notified immediately upon direction from the bankruptcy court to proceed with claims administration and if/when the stay was lifted. (Id. ¶ 14.)

On May 31, 2013, the bankruptcy court issued an order (1) approving trust agreements, (2) authorizing the transfer of remaining assets to the lender trustee, (3) dismissing debtor's Chapter 11 cases and (4) granting related relief. (Mot., Ex. A.) On June 10, 2013, the Bankruptcy Case was closed. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges he never received notice that the bankruptcy case was dismissed from the bankruptcy court or Defendant. (Compl. ¶¶ 23, 26.)

On September 21, 2013, however, Plaintiff received a notice from the appointed trustee in the Bankruptcy Case that stated the United States Bankruptcy Court entered an order on May 31, 2013, establishing a "trust" to liquidate and distribute assets to beneficiaries, including Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 15.) The notice also requested that Plaintiff fill out and return the enclosed W-9 form. (Id.) Plaintiff completed the W-9 form and submitted it to the trustee as requested. (Id.) Thereafter, Plaintiff attempted to contact Nehaz for an update on the status of his claims, but was unable to reach her. (Id. at ¶ 16.)

On December 3, 2013, Sedgwick reassigned Plaintiff's claim to a new claims adjuster, Douglas Johnson. (Id. ¶ 16.) On April 7, 2014, Johnson sent Plaintiff a correspondence stating that the statute of limitations had expired. (Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff received this correspondence on May 12, 2014. (Id.)

On June 25, 2014, Plaintiff filed the instant suit seeking damages for injuries sustained in the traffic collision. (Id.) Defendant now moves to dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that it is barred by the statute of limitations.

II. Legal Standard

A complaint will survive a motion to dismiss when it contains "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court must "accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). When a 12(b)(6) motion is brought upon statute of limitations grounds, "a complaint cannot be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would establish the timeliness of the claim." Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States, 68 F.3d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1995). Generally, courts can only consider allegations contained in the pleadings, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters properly subject to judicial notice when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Outdoor Media Grp., Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 506 F.3d 895, 899 (9th Cir. 2007).

III. Discussion

Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claim is barred by the statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for Plaintiff's claim is two years. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 335.1. At the time Defendant filed for bankruptcy on January 3, 2013, both parties agree that Plaintiff had 285 days remaining to file ...

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