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Steadfast Insurance Co. v. National Fire & Marine Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 19, 2013

Steadfast Insurance Company, Plaintiff,
National Fire & Marine Insurance Company, et al., Defendants.


PAUL G. ROSENBLATT, District Judge.

Before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint (Doc. 14) and Plaintiff's Counter-motion to Remand (Doc. 15). Having reviewed the pleadings, and determined that oral argument is unnecessary, the Court issues the following Order.

I. Background

Plaintiff Steadfast Insurance Company ("Steadfast") filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court on September 26, 2012. (Doc. 1, Ex. A.) Defendant National Fire and Marine Insurance Company ("National Fire") removed the case on April 10, 2013, and it was assigned to this Court on April 25, 2013. (Docs. 1, 11.)

Steadfast filed an amended complaint on May 6, 2013. (Doc. 12.) National Fire filed the pending motion to dismiss on May 20, 2013. (Doc. 14.) On June 6, 2013, Steadfast responded and filed the pending counter-motion to remand. (Doc. 15.) The motions are fully briefed. ( See Docs. 18, 22, 23, 24.)

The first amended complaint brings causes of action for declaratory relief, contribution, indemnity, and breach of contract. (Doc. 12.) Steadfast seeks equitable contribution from National Fire for the defense and indemnity payments made by Plaintiff in an underlying lawsuit, Campo v. Vista Santa Fe, LLC, Maricopa County Case No. CV2006-002752. The Campo case involved claims of construction defects concerning residential homes in which the developers and general contractor (collectively "Del Pueblo") were named as defendants. Steadfast, a liability insurer, provided a defense to Del Pueblo. National Fire, a co-insurer, declined coverage. The Campo matter was settled, with Steadfast funding the settlement on Del Pueblo's behalf. The lawsuit was dismissed on December 18, 2008.

National Fire asserts that Steadfast's contribution and indemnification claims are barred by the three-year statute of limitations set forth in A.R.S. § 12-543 or fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Steadfast argues that the motion to dismiss must be denied because § 12-543 is not applicable to its claims. Steadfast also moves to remand the matter to state court. Alternatively, Steadfast asks for leave to amend its complaint.

II. Rule 12(b)(6)

When considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "a court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true." Shwarz v. United States, 234 F.3d 428, 435 (9th Cir. 2000). However, a court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). "Threadbare 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). The complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be "based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

"A claim may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) on the ground that it is barred by the applicable statute of limitations only when the running of the statute is apparent on the face of the complaint.'" Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 969 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Huynh v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 465 F.3d 992, 997 (9th Cir. 2006)); see Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States, 68 F.3d 1204, 1206 (9th Cir. 1995) (explaining that "a complaint cannot be dismissed unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would establish the timeliness of the claim").

III. Analysis

A. Equitable contribution and indemnity claims.

Section 12-543(1) provides a three-year statute of limitations for an action involving a debt "not evidenced by a contract in writing." National Fire argues that this provision applies to Steadfast's equitable contribution and indemnity claims. Steadfast counters that its claims are timely under either A.R.S. § 12-548 or § 12-550. Section 12-548 provides a six-year statute of limitations for claims based on a written contract, while § 12-550 provides a four-year statute of limitations for disputes as to which no limitation period is otherwise provided.

While National Fire acknowledges that "there is no Arizona case law that specifically discusses the statute of limitations in the context of an equitable contribution claim among insurance carriers" (Doc. 14 at 4), it contends that its position is directly supported by cases from other jurisdictions, principally American States Ins. Co. v. National Fire Ins. Co. of Hartford, 202 Cal.App.4th 692 (Cal.App. ...

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