Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America v. Estate of Bleich

November 6, 2008

ALLIANZ LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY OF NORTH AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE ESTATE OF AUSTIN BLEICH AND CANDICE EDELBAUM BLEICH, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wigenton, District Judge.

OPINION

Defendants Estate of Austin Bleich ("Decedent") and Candice Edelbaum Bleich ("Edelbaum") (collectively "Defendants") have filed a motion to dismiss and/or transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) and 1406(a). Defendants argue that Plaintiff Allianz's ("Allianz") choice of forum in the District of New Jersey has only a "slight connection" to its claims and the facts supporting them and therefore should be transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, where Edelbaum has filed a civil action bearing docket number 08-CV-2505 (the "SDNY action"), which involves the same facts and circumstances as this case. This Motion is decided without oral argument pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. Having carefully considered the arguments of the parties and for the reasons stated below, the Motion is denied and the case shall proceed in this Court pending transfer or dismissal of the SDNY action.

I. Jurisdiction and Venue

This Court has Jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because Plaintiff and Defendants are citizens of different states and because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. As discussed below, venue is also proper in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

Allianz filed the current action against Defendants on February 5, 2008 seeking, inter alia, that a $1.3 million life insurance policy (the "Policy") issued to Decedent in 2005 be declared null and void as a result of material misrepresentations and misstatements by Decedent when he applied for the Policy. Decedent executed Part I of the application for the Policy at issue on September 30, 2005 and listed his residence as Tenafly, NJ. On October 17, 2005, Decedent underwent a paramedical examination and executed Part II of his application at a location in Ridgewood, NJ. A New Jersey-licensed insurance broker with offices in Monsey, New York delivered the Policy to Decedent in New Jersey on November 22, 2005. The Policy was issued pursuant to New Jersey law and included a disclaimer explaining that Allianz was a member of the New Jersey Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association.

Austin Bleich died on September 21, 2007. On October 7, 2007, Defendant Edelbaum executed a claim form to collect as a beneficiary under the Policy on which she listed her residence as Tenafly, NJ. In an affidavit submitted with the current motion, Edelbaum states that she now lives in Manhattan and intends to remain there. She also admits to owning a home in Tenafly, NJ since May, 2005 and spending "some time" there.

In a letter to Edelbaum dated January 31, 2008, Allianz formally declared rescission of the Policy based on the Decedent's alleged misrepresentations, refunded the premiums paid, and advised Edelbaum that it had retained counsel to file a civil action in New Jersey. The letter also explained that the action would be dismissed if Edelbaum accepted the rescission. Allianz filed this action on February 5, 2008, but did not immediately serve it, purportedly to allow time for Edelbaum to consider the rescission offer.

On March 12, 2008, attorneys for Allianz sent a letter to an attorney they believed to represent Decedent's Estate and enclosed a copy of the Complaint. On that same day, Edelbaum filed a complaint against Allianz in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The complaint alleges that Allianz breached its contract with Decedent by failing to honor the terms of the Policy. Both Edelbaum and her counsel in the SDNY action state they were unaware of the action brought by Allianz in New Jersey at the time they filed in New York. Thereafter, counsel for Allianz contacted counsel for Edelbaum requesting that the New York case be voluntarily dismissed. When Edelbaum failed to do so, Allianz filed a motion to dismiss or transfer the SDNY action on May 20, 2008. That motion remains pending. Defendants filed the instant motion on July 22, 2008.

III. Discussion

A. Venue

In a civil action based on diversity of citizenship, venue is proper in "a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred." 28 U.S.C. §1391(a)(2). Under § 1391, "[t]he test for determining venue is not the defendant's 'contacts' with a particular district, but rather the location of those 'events or omissions giving rise to the claim,' theoretically a more easily demonstrable circumstance than where a 'claim arose." Cottman Transmission Sys., Inc. v. Martino 36 F.3d 291, 294 (3d Cir. 1994) (analyzing 1990 amendments to 28 U.S.C § 1391); see also Intertran Corp. v. Railquip, Inc. No. Civil No. 1:CV-08-0684, 2008 WL 3981493, at *6 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 22, 2008) (finding venue was improper because the actions that gave rise to plaintiff's complaint occurred outside of the district). Determining whether a substantial part of the events that give rise to a claim occurred in a given venue, it is necessary to examine the nature of the dispute. See Kichler v. Wieland Intern., No. 3:07-118J, 2007 WL 4150935, at *4 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 19, 2007) (citing Cottman, 36 F.3d at 294). In this case, Allianz seeks rescission of the Policy because, as its Complaint alleges, Decedent made material misstatements of fact when he completed and executed Parts I and II of the application for the Policy. On both portions of the application, Decedent listed his address as Tenafly, NJ. The paramedical examination of Decedent, which was part of the application process, also took place in New Jersey. The policy was delivered in New Jersey, and Edelbaum listed her address as Tenafly, NJ when she filed a claim as a beneficiary under the Policy in October, 2007. Hence, it is clear that the location of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims in this case have a substantial connection to New Jersey. Venue is therefore proper in this Court. See Cottman, 36 F.3d at 294. Defendants' claim that "[t]he only connection this matter has to the State of New Jersey is that the policy was delivered in New Jersey" is completely without merit.

It is true that the "substantial" requirement in ยง1391 (a)(2) "is intended to preserve the element of fairness so that a defendant is not haled into a remote district." Id. However, the District Court in Newark is certainly not "remote" from the Southern District of New York. In fact, the courthouse for the Southern District is less than ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.