United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
THE PLEADINGS (DOC. NO. 24)
Anthony J. Battaglia United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendants' motion for judgment on the
pleadings. (Doc. No. 24.) Plaintiff filed an opposition,
(Doc. No. 27), and Defendants filed a reply, (Doc. No. 30).
For reasons set forth herein, the Defendants' motion for
judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Openiano (“Plaintiff”) brings this suit against
his insurers, Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company and
ITT Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company
(“Defendants”). In Plaintiff's Complaint,
Plaintiff alleges seven causes of action against Defendants:
(1) breach of contract; (2) breach of fiduciary duty; (3)
violations of Unfair Claim Settlement Practice Act under Cal.
Ins. Code 790.03, et seq.; (4) insurance bad faith;
(5) unfair competition under Bus. & Prof. Code 7200,
et seq.; (6) constructive fraud; and (7) fraud.
(See generally Doc. No. 1-2.) Plaintiff first
filed his complaint in California Superior Court, but
Defendants removed the case to federal court. (Doc. No. 1.)
After removing the case to federal court, Defendants filed
their Answer and then filed this Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings. (Doc. No. 4; Doc. No. 24-1.)
Complaint spans sixty-three pages, excluding exhibits, but
the facts of the case can be summarized succinctly as
follows. The claims arise from two separate incidents: the
first occurred in February 1998 and the second occurred in
February 1998 Incident
about February 1997, Plaintiff signed up for and was issued
Universal Life Insurance from Defendants (the
“Policy”). (Doc. No. 1-2, Ex. A ¶ 12.) The
Policy contained a $110, 000 Renewable and Convertible Term
Life Insurance Rider and Planned Premium Benefit in addition
to a twenty-four (24) month Disability Income Supplement
Rider. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) The Disability
Income Supplement Rider provided for $1, 450 per month for 24
months for a covered disability. (Id.). In addition,
the Policy included policy loan benefits which entitled the
insured to a policy loan. (Id.).
September 1997, Plaintiff became disabled and consequently
made a claim for disability benefits under the Policy in the
amount of $1, 450 per month. (Id. ¶ 19.)
Defendants paid the first six months in two lumpsum payments
of $4, 350. (Id. ¶ 20.) The first lumpsum
check, for the period of September 8, 1997 through December
8, 1997, never arrived. (Id. ¶ 22.) Two months
later, on February 15, 1998, Plaintiff received a letter that
was supposed to contain the check; however, the check was
absent. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff and his wife
immediately noticed the missing check and contacted
Defendants for a replacement check. (Id.) A check
was mailed out to Plaintiff on or about March 12, 1998, in
the amount of $4, 727.43. (Id. ¶ 25). The
amount was $377.43 more than the disability payment expected.
and his wife did not review the accompanying letter regarding
the payment amounts provided for in the check. (Id.
¶ 26.) The letter that accompanied this check, which
Plaintiff attached to his Complaint as Exhibit B, plainly
stated that it “represents $4, 350.00 for the three
month disability period from December 8, 1997 to March 8,
1998 and $377.43 for the waiver of the planned premium
benefit for the premiums due January 10, 1998 through March
10, 1998.” (Id., Ex. B.) It was not until
sometime in the Summer of 2015 that Plaintiff realized that
the payment received around March 12, 1998, was actually the
payment for the next installment of the disability income in
addition to a premium reimbursement under the Waiver for
Planned Premium Benefit-not the replacement of the first
lumpsum covering September 1997 through December 1997.
(See Id. ¶ 28.) Thus, Plaintiff never received
his lumpsum disability payment covering the three month
disability period of September 1997 through December 1997.
February 2015 Incident
in February 2015, Plaintiff obtained a policy loan from
Defendants in the amount of $2, 242. (Id. ¶
30.) The loan check was dated February 13, 2015.
(Id.) Plaintiff was alerted that the policy loan
check bounced on February 26, 2015, causing a $20 bounced
check fee in addition to the absent loan amount.
(Id. ¶ 119.) A March 11, 2015 letter explained
that two checks had accidently been sent to Plaintiff and
that one of the checks incurred a stop order to remedy two
checks being sent to Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 4, Ex. C at 15.)
However, Plaintiff contends that he only received one check
in February 2015, and when he attempted to deposit the check
it had been stopped. (Doc. No. 4, Ex. A ¶¶ 30, 55.)
Plaintiff did not receive the $2, 242 loan amount until June
8, 2015. (Id.) The replacement check did not include
the $20 bounced check fee incurred by Plaintiff. (See
Id. ¶ 119.)
the Plaintiff was aggravated by the bounced check
“ordeal, ” Plaintiff began to scrutinize all
documents and communications between Plaintiff and Defendant
dating back to the beginning of their contractual
relationship. (Id. ¶ 45.) A few months after
the February 2015 incident, Plaintiff discovered the $4,
727.43 check was not actually a replacement check and that he
never received the $4, 350 owed for the period of September
1997 through December 1997. (Id. ¶ 46.)
Civ. P. 12(c) provides, in relevant part, that “after
the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay
the trial, any party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” As courts of this Circuit have recognized,
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(2) “specifically authorizes” a
moving party to use a motion for judgment on the pleadings
“to raise the defense of failure to state a claim, even
after an answer has been filed.” Aldabe v.
Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1093 (9th Cir. 1980) (affirming
dismissal of action pursuant to Rule 12(c)). In deciding a
Rule 12(c) motion, courts apply the same standard of reviews
as with a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
Martorello v. Sun Life Assur. Co. of Canada, 2009 WL
1227011, at *3-4 (N.D. Cal. May 1, 2009) (citing
McGlinchy v. Shell Chem. Co., 845 F.2d 802, 810 (9th
Cir. 1988)). Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the
pleadings, and allows a court to dismiss a complaint upon a
finding that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. See Novarro v. Block,
250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). As a result, a
“[j]udgment on ...