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Wilson v. Accident Fund General Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 18, 2013

JULIE WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ACCIDENT FUND GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, COMPWEST INSURANCE COMPANY, and DEB GORNEY, Defendants.

ORDER

RUSSEL HOLLAND, District Judge.

Motion to Dismiss

Defendant Deb Gorney moves to dismiss plaintiff's claim[1] against her.[2] This motion is opposed.[3] Oral argument was requested but is not deemed necessary.

Facts

Plaintiff is Julie Wilson. Defendants are Accident Fund General Insurance Company, Compwest Insurance Company, and Deb Gorney.

Plaintiff alleges that she was "injured in the course and scope of her employment on or about September 30, 2012."[4] Plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim, which was adjusted by Gorney, acting within the scope and course of her employment for the insurance company defendants.[5] Plaintiff's claim was originally denied, which "caused [plaintiff] to initiate preliminary proceedings before the Industrial Commission of Arizona."[6] After plaintiff initiated these preliminary proceedings, her claim was accepted on May 3, 2013.[7]

On October 3, 2013, plaintiff commenced this action, in which she asserts a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claim against the insurance company defendants and a claim of aiding and abetting against Gorney. Plaintiff alleges generally that defendants "fail[ed] to conduct a reasonable investigation" of her claim.[8] Plaintiff further alleges that Gorney "knew that, after an adequate investigation, [plaintiff's] claim was not fairly debatable, that ACCIDENT FUND and COMPWEST delayed and denied [plaintiff's] claim without any reasonable basis, and that ACCIDENT FUND and COMPWEST knew or recklessly disregarded this lack of a reasonable basis to delay and deny [her] claim."[9] Defendant Gorney now moves to dismiss plaintiff's claim against her.

Discussion

"To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations; rather, it must plead enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Weber v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs , 521 F.3d 1061, 1065 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 571 (2007)). The court accepts all allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to plaintiff. United States v. Corinthian Colleges , 655 F.3d 984, 991 (9th Cir. 2011).

"Arizona recognizes aiding and abetting as embodied in Restatement ยง 876(b), that a person who aids and abets a tortfeasor is himself liable for the resulting harm to a third person." Wells Fargo Bank v. Ariz. Laborers, Teamsters and Cement Masons Local No. 395 Pension Trust Fund , 38 P.3d 12, 23 (Ariz. 2002).

Claims of aiding and abetting tortious conduct require proof of three elements:
(1) the primary tortfeasor must commit a tort that causes injury to the plaintiff;
(2) the defendant must know that the primary tortfeasor's conduct constitutes a breach of duty; and
(3) the defendant must substantially assist or encourage the primary tortfeasor in the ...

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