United States District Court, E.D. California
L. NUNLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant American Reliable
Insurance Company's (“Defendant”) Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 5.) Plaintiff Allstate Insurance Company
(“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion. (ECF No. 8.)
Pursuant to this Court's March 8, 2017, Order (ECF No.
11), Plaintiff filed supplemental briefing addressing whether
Plaintiff has Article III standing to bring its claims and
whether those claims are ripe for adjudication. (ECF No. 12.) The
Court has carefully considered the arguments raised by the
parties. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
Factual and Procedural Background
an insurance coverage dispute arising out of an underlying
action in Butte County Superior Court: Spangler v.
Carajuana et al., No. 164234
(“Spangler” or the “underlying
action”). In Spangler, Paula Spangler
(“Spangler”) sued three people for injuries she
suffered when a dog bit her. She sued the dog's owner,
John Caruana (“Caruana”). (Compl., ECF No. 1 at ¶
5.) She also sued a couple, Floyd and Laura Damschen
(collectively “the Damschens”), who were taking
care of Caruana's dog as a favor when the dog bit
Spangler. (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 5, 10.)
parties in the instant case are the insurers of the
Spangler defendants. Plaintiff insured the
Damschens. Defendant insured Caruana. Plaintiff has borne the
expense of defending the Damschens in Spangler. (ECF
No. 1 at ¶ 6.) Plaintiff contends that the
Damschens' potential liability in Spangler also
falls within the scope of the farm and ranch policy that
Defendant issued Caruana. Plaintiff asked Defendant to
contribute to the defense and indemnity of the Damschens, but
Defendant refused. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 12.)
filed this lawsuit on April 26, 2016. Plaintiff seeks a
declaration that Defendant is required to defend and
indemnify the Damschens in Spangler. Plaintiff also
seeks equitable contribution and equitable subrogation. (ECF
No. 1 at 6.)
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the
legal sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block,
250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). On a motion to dismiss,
the factual allegations of the complaint are assumed to be
true. Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972). A
court is bound to give plaintiff the benefit of every
reasonable inference to be drawn from the well-pleaded
allegations of the complaint. Retail Clerks Int'l
Ass'n v. Schermerhorn, 373 U.S. 746, 753 n.6 (1963).
A plaintiff need not allege “‘specific facts'
beyond those necessary to state his claim and the grounds
showing entitlement to relief.” Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) (citing
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508
(2009)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678-79 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
But the court “need not assume the truth of legal
conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.”
United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d
638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986).
ruling upon a motion to dismiss, the court may consider only
the complaint, any exhibits thereto, and matters which may be
judicially noticed pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201.
See Mir v. Little Co. of Mary Hosp., 844 F.2d 646,
649 (9th Cir. 1988); Isuzu Motors Ltd. v. Consumers Union
of United States, Inc., 12 F.Supp.2d 1035, 1042 (C.D.
Cal. 1998). If the court finds that the complaint fails to
state a plausible claim for relief, the court “should
grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading
was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not
possibly be cured by the allegation of other
facts.'” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (quoting Doe v. United
States, 58 F.3d 484, 497 (9th Cir. 1995)).
asserts three causes of action: declaratory relief, equitable
contribution, and equitable subrogation. The Court addresses
Plaintiff's claims for equitable contribution and
equitable subrogation before addressing Plaintiff's
request for declaratory relief.
contends that it is entitled to equitable contribution under
California law because Plaintiff and Defendant “share
the same level of liability on the same risk” but
Plaintiff “alone has borne the expense of defending the
Damschens” in Spangler. (ECF No. 1 at ¶
16.) Plaintiff seeks an order declaring this entitlement and
requests that the order “stat[e] that [Defendant] is
required to pay its proportionate share of any sums”
Plaintiff has spent or will spend defending the Damschens
with respect to the underlying action and any amounts that
might be spent indemnifying the Damschens with respect to the
underlying action, regardless of whether spent to settle the
underlying action or satisfy a judgment entered in connection
with it. (ECF No. 1 at 6.)
Plaintiff can eventually make out a claim for equitable
contribution, the Court concludes that Plaintiff's claim
is not yet ripe. “[T]he question of ripeness may be
considered on a court's own motion.” Nat'l
Park Hosp. Ass'n v. Dep't of Interior, 538 U.S.
803, 808 (2003). The “ripeness doctrine precludes
federal courts from exercising their jurisdiction over an
action that is filed before a real dispute exists between the
parties.” See Hawaii Newspaper Agency v.
Bronster, 103 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 1996). The basic
rationale behind the ripeness doctrine “is to prevent