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American Corporate Society v. Valley Forge Insurance Co.

July 22, 2010

RE: AMERICAN CORPORATE SOCIETY, ET AL.
v.
VALLEY FORGE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini Judge

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR . FEDERAL BLDG. & U .S. COURT HOUSE 50 WALNUT STREET, P.O . BOX 419 NEWARK, NJ 07101-0419 (973) 645-6340

LETTER OPINION

Dear Counsel:

This matter comes before the Court on the motion to dismiss filed by Defendants Valley Forge Insurance Company ("Valley Forge") and James White, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b). There was no oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Max Antoine and American Corporate Society's ("ACS")*fn1 Complaint appears to arise out of an April 2009 "police raid" of ACS's office in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Following this incident, Plaintiffs contacted ACS's property insurer, Defendant Valley Forge, to submit a claim under its insurance policy for property damage. In the Complaint, Plaintiffs state that the office sustained damage after it was "physically left unsecured for three days" after the "raid." (Compl. ¶ 6.)

This request for benefits was referred by Defendant Valley Forge to one of its claims adjusters, Defendant James White, and after investigation, the claim was denied. Defendant Valley Forge asserts in its motion to dismiss that the claim was denied since ACS's policy excluded claims for damage caused by "governmental action," which is defined as "[s]eizure or destruction of property by order of governmental authority." (Decl. of James P. White, Ex. A.)

Plaintiffs then filed a ten-count Complaint alleging breach of contract, discrimination, and various tort claims against Defendants Valley Forge Insurance Company, "CNA-Insurance Company," and James White in the Superior Court of New Jersey. After timely removal of the Complaint to this Court, Defendants Valley Forge and White filed the instant motion to dismiss.

II. DISCUSSION

Defendants Valley Forge and White raise many bases upon which to dismiss the instant Complaint, which are discussed in depth below.

A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

In evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff's claims are based upon those documents. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). All allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). This assumption of truth is inapplicable, however, to legal conclusions couched as factual allegations or to "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Thus, the factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a plaintiff's right to relief above a speculative level, such that it is "plausible on its face." See id. at 570; see also Umland v. PLANCO Fin. Serv., Inc., 542 F.3d 59, 64 (3d Cir. 2008). Furthermore, 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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 ...


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