United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Frank Roy Vineland, New Jersey Plaintiff Pro Se.
Jason J. Sweet, Esquire, Reger Rizzo & Darnall LP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Attorneys for Defendant.
NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is a motion [Doc. No. 4] to dismiss filed by Defendant, Trident Insurance Agency (hereafter, "Trident"), pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Plaintiff pro se, Frank Roy, filed opposition to the motion. The Court has considered the submissions of the parties and decides this matter pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78. For the reasons that follow, Trident's motion to dismiss is granted.
In the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Annmarie Koszowski of Trident and Monica O'Neill, an attorney, "intentionally presented a fraudulent affidavit to Superior Court to vacate a legitimate judgment against Travelers Insurance." (Compl. 1.) It appears that Plaintiff previously brought an action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, Law Division against Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Company (hereafter, "Travelers"). Plaintiff apparently obtained a judgment against Travelers in the state court action, but Travelers sought to vacate the judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff served process on Trident, as an agent of Travelers, even though Trident was not authorized to accept service on behalf of Travelers.
It further appears that in seeking to vacate the judgment, Travelers, through its attorney Ms. O'Neill, submitted to the state court the affidavit from Ms. Koszowski, a Vice President of Trident, in which Ms. Koszowski states that Trident is an independent insurance agency and is not a parent, subsidiary or affiliated corporation of Travelers. The affidavit further states that there are no officers, directors, shareholders, employees or agents of Travelers located at the offices of Trident who are permitted to accept service of process on behalf of Travelers.
Plaintiff now contends that Ms. Koszowski lied in the affidavit submitted in the state court action, as Trident purportedly is an authorized agent of Travelers. (Compl. 2.) Plaintiff avers that in submitting this allegedly false affidavit, Ms. Koszowski and Ms. O'Neill "intentionally conspired to deceive the judicial system by lying under oath." (Id. at 1.) He also avers that Trident's actions, through Ms. Koszowski and Ms. O'Neill, constituted intentional discrimination against Plaintiff, who is purportedly disabled. (Id. at 2.)
Trident moves to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the pleading fails to comply with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 in that it fails to contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that Plaintiff is entitled to relief. Trident also argues that Plaintiff's statement of the legal basis for his claim is so vague that Trident does not know what statute it is accused of violating. Trident assumes that Plaintiff is asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(2), which it contends is the "most relevant portion of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, " but notes that this statute concerns discrimination against disabled persons in the employment context. Plaintiff, Trident contends, has not alleged any facts demonstrating an employment relationship with Trident. Moreover, even assuming an employment relationship exists, Trident argues that Plaintiff fails to set forth any facts to suggest that Trident discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of a disability.
II. STANDARD FOR DISMISSAL
In considering whether a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005); see also Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 2008) ("[I]n deciding a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), [a district court is]... required to accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint and draw all inferences from the facts alleged in the light most favorable to" the plaintiff). A pleading is sufficient if it contains "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
A district court, in weighing a motion to dismiss, asks "not whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims[.]'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 563 n.8, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Scheuer v. Rhoades, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974)); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) ("Our decision in Twombly expounded the pleading standard for all civil actions[.]'") (citation omitted). First, under the Twombly/Iqbal standard, a district court "must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937). Second, a district court "must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.'" Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211 (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937).
"[A] complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief." Fowler, 578 F.3d at 211; see also Phillips, 515 F.3d at 234 ("The Supreme Court's Twombly formulation of the pleading standard can be summed up thus: stating... a claim requires a complaint with enough factual matter (taken as true) to suggest' the required element. This does not impose a probability requirement at the pleading stage, ' but instead simply calls for enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of' the necessary element.") (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S.Ct. 1955). "The defendant bears the burden of showing that no claim has been presented." Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005).
Finally, a court in reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion must consider the facts alleged in the pleadings, the documents attached thereto as exhibits, and matters of public record. Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, 716 F.3d 764, 772 (3d Cir. 2013). A court may also consider "undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents[.]'" Id . (quoting Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230 (3d Cir. 2010)). If any other matters outside the pleadings are presented to the court, and the court ...