United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION [DOC. 19] TO
M. JAMES LORENZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Liberty Life Assurance Company
of Boston's (“Defendant”) motion to dismiss
Plaintiff Laurel Davis' (“Plaintiff”) second
amended complaint. The Court decides the matter on the papers
submitted and without oral argument. See Civ. L. R. 7.1(d.1).
For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS
case arises out of the denial of a long-term disability
insurance policy. Plaintiff started working for the
University of California, San Diego (“UCSD”) in
1983. At that time, Plaintiff enrolled in a benefits package
that included short term (“STD”) and long term
(“LTD”) disability insurance plans. Defendant is
the administrator of both disability insurance plans.
January 18, 2010, Plaintiff sustained a serious knee injury
from a slip and fall at work. Because of her injury,
Plaintiff has had to undergo multiple surgeries and has been
unable to return to work. In June of 2011, Plaintiff filed a
claim for benefits under the STD policy. Defendant accepted
Plaintiff's STD claim and paid on the claim until it
exhausted on July 29, 2012. Because her injuries persisted,
Defendant converted Plaintiff's STD claim into a LTD
claim on January 17, 2012. On June 26, 2012, Defendant sent
Plaintiff a letter informing her that it had denied her LTD
claim. (Denial Letter [Doc. 18-1 Ex. 2].) The Denial Letter
informed Plaintiff that she had sixty days to submit a
written request for a review of the decision.
does not allege to have submitted a timely written request
for review. Rather, Plaintiff alleges that she called
Defendant on July 20, 2012, and informed an insurance
adjuster that she was undergoing additional surgery in early
November, 2012. Per Plaintiff, the insurance adjuster told
her “that [Defendant] was reevaluating her claim for
long-term benefits under [the LTD policy], would keep her
informed, and would be in contact with her if it required
additional information.” (SAC [Doc. 18] ¶ 31.)
February or March of 2012, Plaintiff also submitted a claim
for disability benefits under a separate plan (“the
UCRP Plan”) administered directly by the University of
California. On August 27, 2012, the University of California
accepted her claim for benefits under the UCRP Plan. The
University of California ended up handing over administration
of the UCRP Plan to Defendant. On October 2013 Defendant sent
Plaintiff a letter asking that she provide any medical
information she had and execute an authorization for the
release of medical records. Plaintiff signed and returned the
alleges she subsequently became confused about the status of
her benefits and therefore called Defendant on September 29
2014. During the conversation, she asked why she was approved
for benefits under the UCRP policy but not the LTD policy.
(SAC ¶ 40.) Defendant replied it was because the plans
had different eligibility standards.
confusion allegedly persisted for some time. In June of 2016,
she claims to have requested all documents relating to her
disability claims, but states Defendant never fully responded
to this request. Eventually, on March 2, 2017, Plaintiff
filed a complaint with the Superior Court of California,
County of San Diego, alleging (1) breach of contract; (2)
fraud; (3) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and
fair dealing; and (4) violation of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code
§ 12000 et seq. (Compl. [Doc. 1 Ex. A].) Defendant
timely removed to this Court and moved to dismiss. (Rem Not.
[Doc. 1]; First MTD [Doc. 2].) Plaintiff did not oppose
Defendant's first motion to dismiss. Rather, Plaintiff
mooted the first motion to dismiss when she filed a First
Amended Complaint alleging the same four causes of action.
(FAC [Doc. 7].) Defendant then filed a second motion to
dismiss. (Second MTD [Doc. 8].) The Court granted
Defendant's second motion to dismiss, finding
Plaintiff's claims barred by the applicable statutes of
limitations. (August 3, 2017 Order [Doc. 14].) Given the
liberal amendment policy enshrined in Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), the
Court granted Plaintiff leave to file a second amended
complaint. (Id.) After Plaintiff filed her Second
Amended Complaint, Defendant filed a third motion to dismiss.
(Third MTD [Doc. 19].) Plaintiff opposes. (Opp'n [Doc.
court must dismiss a cause of action for failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
complaint's sufficiency. See N. Star Int'l v.
Ariz. Corp. Comm'n., 720 F.2d 578, 581 (9th Cir.
1983). The court must assume the truth of all factual
allegations and “construe them in the light most
favorable to [the nonmoving party].” Gompper v.
VISX, Inc., 298 F.3d 893, 895 (9th Cir. 2002); see
also Walleri v. Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle, 83 F.2d
1575, 1580 (9th Cir. 1996).
Supreme Court explained, “[w]hile a complaint attacked
by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed
factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide
the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitlement to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (internal citations and quotation
marks omitted). Instead, the allegations in the complaint
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Id. at 1965. A complaint
may be dismissed as a matter of law either for lack of a
cognizable legal theory or for insufficient facts under a
cognizable theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds,
Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984).
Statute of Limitations
contends that all of Plaintiff's claims are barred by the
statute of limitations. The statute of limitations clock
starts to run when a cause of action accrues, meaning all the
elements of the claim are present. Fox v. Ethicon
Endo-Surgery, Inc., 35 Cal.4th 797, 806-07 (2005).
Breach of written contract claims carry a four-year statute
of limitations. Cal. Code Civ. P. § 337. The elements of
a breach of contract claim are (1) existence of a contract;
(2) plaintiff's performance; (3) defendant's breach;
and (4) resulting damages. Oasis West Realty, LLC v.
Goldman, 51 Cal.4th 811, 821 (2011). Construing as true
Plaintiff's allegation that defendant's denial of LTD
benefits constituted breach, it follows that her breach of
contract claim accrued no later than June 26, 2012, the date
Defendant sent Plaintiff the Denial Letter. The distance