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Mounier v. RLI Corp.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 30, 2019

Sandrine Mounier, et al., Plaintiffs,
RLI Corporation, et al., Defendants.


          G. Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Four Season Travel, LLC (Doc. 14).[1] For the following reasons the motion is granted.


         This case is before the Court in diversity jurisdiction, having been removed by the Defendants from the Superior Court for Maricopa County on March 18, 2019. (Doc. 1.) The complaint alleges the following facts, which for purposes of this motion to dismiss are taken as true. Plaintiffs Sandrine and Gustave Mounier are residents of France who decided to visit the American Southwest. As part of their visit, they contracted with Defendant Geo Tours for two tickets on a bus tour of various areas in northern Arizona. Geo Tours, as part of its management of the tour, had an insurance policy that covered the trip. Geo Tours contracted with Defendant Four Season Travel to provide a bus and chauffeur for the trip. Four Season insured the bus with Defendant RLI Corp., and the contract included an underinsured motorist provision (“UIM provision”).

         On the night of November 10, 2015, apparently after they had been dropped off at their hotel for the evening, the Mouniers were in a crosswalk in Page, Arizona, when non-party Albert Henry “drove his vehicle so as to collide into the Mouniers and/or lead them to believe they would be collided into as they traversed a crosswalk on foot.” (Doc. 1 at 7.) Ms. Mounier was injured and was required to return home early, where she underwent surgery on her wrist and has since lost some function in the joint.

         The Mouniers recovered the limits of Albert Henry's liability insurance policy and then notified Geo Tours and Four Season that they would be making claims against their insurance. They also requested copies of the relevant policies and the accompanying limits. Four Season forwarded the claim over to RLI, its insurer. RLI denied the claim and refused to provide a copy of the entire insurance policy to the Mouniers. The Mouniers asked RLI to reconsider but were again denied. Eventually, RLI offered $10, 000 to Ms. Mounier. The Mouniers then filed this action, alleging-as relevant to the current motion-a claim of “Negligence, Gross Negligence, [and] Punitive Damages” against all Defendants, including Four Season.

         Four Season now moves to dismiss that claim, arguing that the Mouniers have failed in the complaint to state a plausible claim on which relief could be granted.


         I. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (b)(6) is designed to “test[ ] the legal sufficiency of a claim.” Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). To survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than “labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action”; it must contain factual allegations sufficient to “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While “a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations . . . it must plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Clemens v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 534 F.3d 1017, 1022 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting 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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Plausibility requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         When analyzing a complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), “[a]ll allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Smith v. Jackson, 84 F.3d 1213, 1217 (9th Cir. 1996). However, legal conclusions couched as factual allegations are not given a presumption of truthfulness, and “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are not sufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Pareto v. FDIC, 139 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1998).

         II. Analysis

         A. The negligence claim is not barred by the statute of limitations.

         Four Season argues that the negligence claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Negligence actions in Arizona must be brought within two years of the accrual of the cause of action. Rowland v. Kellogg Brown and Root, Inc., 210 Ariz. 530, 532, 115 P.3d 124, 126 (Ariz.Ct.App. 2005) (citing Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12-542). The cause of action accrues when “the plaintiff knows or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence should know the facts underlying the cause.” Tavilla v. Cephalon, Inc., 870 F.Supp.2d 759, ...

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