United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING BRIGHTHOUSE LIFE INSURANCE
COMPANY'S MOTION TO DISMISS AMENDED COMPLAINT RE: DKT.
VIRGINIA K. DEMARCHI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Brighthouse Life Insurance Company
(“Brighthouse”) moves to dismiss all claims
asserted against it by plaintiff Marie A. Arnold. Dkt. No.
24. The Court held a hearing on the motion on November 12,
2019. Upon consideration of the moving and responding papers,
as well as the oral arguments presented, the Court grants the
motion to dismiss, and gives Ms. Arnold leave to file a
second amended complaint.
Arnold, proceeding pro se, originally filed this
action against defendants MetLife Auto & Home Insurance
Agency, Inc. and MetLife Group, Inc., asserting claims for
negligence and negligent misrepresentation, as well as a
claim under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for
alleged invasion of privacy. Ms. Arnold says that, at
defendants' suggestion and with their agreement, she
subsequently amended her complaint to include an additional
defendant, Brighthouse. Dkt. No. 13.
Arnold's operative amended complaint (Dkt. No. 19)
asserts claims for fraudulent concealment, misrepresentation,
breach of fiduciary duty, and violation of the Fourth
Amendment (invasion of privacy). Although the allegations of
the amended complaint are not stated clearly, Ms. Arnold
seems to allege that she obtained some sort of insurance
coverage through her prior employment with Kaiser Permanente
(“Kaiser”). Dkt. No. 19 at ECF 2. Ms. Arnold says
that she voluntarily terminated her employment with Kaiser on
May 13, 2012, and was experiencing emotional distress and
financial hardship. Id. She further alleges that she
was given “an option to continue Metlife life
[i]nsurance” through an “arrangement with [an]
Insurance Agent, ” and either Ms. Arnold or the
insurance agent “insisted [o]n [a] ‘Promise Whole
Life' Plan.” Id. Appended as Exhibit A to
the amended complaint is a letter that appears to summarize a
“Promise Whole Life” plan Policy Number 21216479
UT, issued by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Dkt. No.
19 at ECF 11. The identified insured is “Marie A.
Dantes, ” which Ms. Arnold represents was her (former)
married name. Id.; Dkt. No. 27-1 ¶ 3. That
letter identifies a June 14, 2012 “Policy Issue Date of
Original Policy” and a “Face Amount of
Insurance” of $50, 000. Id. The letter also
states that “[f]urther details about the policy and
benefits will be furnished upon request.” Id.
Elsewhere in the amended complaint, Ms. Arnold alleges that
“Brighthouse and Metlife are stated to be
Plaintiff's individual plan with same policy
number.” Dkt. No. 19 at ECF 3. Appended to the amended
complaint as Exhibit B is what appears to be a brochure
providing an overview of a Kaiser benefits package.
Id. at ECF 13-20.
Arnold says she “informed Metlife about her hardship,
” and seems to claim that, due to a chronic illness or
disability, she was entitled to “withdraw” money
under her policy. Id. at ECF 4, 5. According to the
amended complaint, defendants failed to disclose, and made
false representations about, Ms. Arnold's alleged
entitlement to payment of a “whole life policy
amount.” Id. As a result, Ms. Arnold says that
she suffered humiliation and mental anguish, and became
homeless. Id. at ECF 3. She seeks $500, 000 in
compensatory damages, plus $1, 000, 000 in punitive damages.
Id. at ECF 9.
amended complaint seems to acknowledge that Ms. Arnold's
claims may be time-barred. Nonetheless, Ms. Arnold alleges
that she is entitled to tolling, noting that “[t]he
general rule [that] the statu[t]es of limitation begins to
run when Plaintiff discovers that a fraud occurred or
exercise of reasonable diligence.” Id. at 3.
Brighthouse moves to dismiss the amended complaint for
failure to state a claim for relief, pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Brighthouse
acknowledges that some of Ms. Arnold's claims appear to
relate to an individual whole life insurance policy (Policy
No. 21216479UT) under which Ms. Arnold was the named insured,
and which was issued by MetLife Investors Insurance Company,
now known as Brighthouse. Dkt. No. 33 at ECF 7 n.1.
Nevertheless, Brighthouse argues that Ms. Arnold's
amended complaint fails to allege sufficient facts
demonstrating that there is a viable basis for any claim
against Brighthouse. Additionally, Brighthouse contends that
all of Ms. Arnold's claims are time-barred and that the
amended complaint does not allege sufficient facts to invoke
tolling under the discovery rule. Ms. Arnold opposes the
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims in
the complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732
(9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is appropriate where there is no
cognizable legal theory or an absence of sufficient facts
alleged to support a cognizable legal theory. Id.
(citing Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901
F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990)). In such a motion, all
material allegations in the complaint must be taken as true
and construed in the light most favorable to the claimant.
“[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). Moreover, “the court is not required to accept
legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if
those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts
alleged.” Clegg v. Cult Awareness
Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994).
8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” This means that the “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted).
However, only plausible claims for relief will survive a
motion to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A claim
is plausible if its factual content permits the court to draw
a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
alleged misconduct. Id. A plaintiff does not have to
provide detailed facts, but the pleading must include
“more than an unadorned,
Id. at 678.
appended to or incorporated into the complaint or which
properly are the subject of judicial notice may be considered
along with the complaint when deciding a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion. Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg, 593 F.3d 1031,
1038 (9th Cir. 2010).