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Martin v. Bristol West Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

August 24, 2016

Tiffany Martin and Sandy Martin, Plaintiffs,
v.
Bristol West Insurance Company, Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. BRYAN HARWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Tiffany and Sandy Martin filed this action asserting contract and tort claims against Defendant Bristol West Insurance Company. The matter is before the Court for resolution of Defendant's motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion to stay. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants Defendant's motion to dismiss and dismisses this action without prejudice.

         Factual and Procedural History

         On August 24, 2012, Plaintiff Tiffany Martin was the driver of a Jeep owned and insured by Plaintiff Sandy Martin. Complaint, ECF No. 1-1 at ¶¶ 1-2, 6-7. Plaintiff Tiffany Martin was involved in an automobile accident when the Jeep she was driving was struck from behind by a vehicle owned and operated by Glenda Simmons. Id. at ¶¶ 6-10, 13. Plaintiff Tiffany Martin allegedly suffered injuries to her back that required medical treatment. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12, 14.

         At the time of the accident, Plaintiff Sandy Martin maintained an insurance policy through Defendant, which included a provision for underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Id. at ¶¶ 15-19. Plaintiff Tiffany Martin attempted to settle with Defendant by demanding the policy limits of $200, 000, but Defendant made no offers to settle the matter. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21. On August 7, 2015, Plaintiff Tiffany Martin sent Defendant a letter notifying that it was acting in bad faith. Id. at ¶ 22.

         On August 20, 2015, Plaintiffs filed the instant bad faith action in the Court of Common Pleas for Horry County, South Carolina, against Defendant, alleging causes of action for breach of contract, violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, insurance bad faith, and negligence. Id. at ¶¶ 23-49. On October 7, 2015, Defendant removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. ECF No. 1.

         After filing the instant action, Plaintiff Tiffany Martin separately filed a personal injury action against Simmons, the alleged at-fault driver, in the Horry County Court of Common Pleas on October 28, 2015. ECF No. 12 at 2; see Tiffany M. Martin v. Glenda Simmons, Case No. 2015-CP-26-7743, http://publicindex.sccourts.org/Horry/PublicIndex/CaseDetails.aspx?County=26&CourtAgency=260 02&Casenum=2015CP2607743&CaseType=V. Defendant appeared in the personal injury action on behalf of Simmons and filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the lawsuit-which arose from the August 24, 2012 accident-was barred by the three-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions contained in section 15-3-530(5) of the South Carolina Code (2005). ECF No. 12 at 2. On January 20, 2016, the state circuit court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. Id.; see Martin v. Simmons, Order filed Jan. 20, 2016, available at http://ctrack.sccourts.org/public/caseView.do?csIID=61467. On February 1, 2016, Plaintiff Tiffany Martin filed a timely notice of appeal of the circuit court's order; the appeal is currently pending before the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Id.

         On February 16, 2016, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, motion to stay. ECF No. 12. Plaintiffs filed a timely response in opposition, and Defendant filed a timely reply. ECF Nos. 13 & 14.

         Standard of Review

         When deciding a motion to dismiss made under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all well-pled facts alleged in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 253 (4th Cir. 2009). A complaint must state a “‘plausible claim for relief'” to survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). The Court will not dismiss the plaintiff's complaint so long as he provides adequate detail about his claims to show he has a “more-than-conceivable chance of success on the merits.” Owens v. Baltimore City State's Attorneys Office, 767 F.3d 379, 396 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2006)). “Once a claim has been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts consistent with the allegations in the complaint.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 563. A complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “[C]ourts must consider the complaint in its entirety, as well as other sources courts ordinarily examine when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, in particular, documents incorporated into the complaint by reference, and matters of which a court may take judicial notice.”[1] Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007).

         Discussion

         In its motion, Defendant argues the instant action is premature and must be dismissed because Plaintiffs filed it before filing and serving copies of the pleadings in the underlying personal injury action. ECF No. 12 at 3. Alternatively, Defendant requests that the Court stay this action pending resolution of the appeal in the underlying action. Id. at 3-4.

         In response, Plaintiffs assert the Court should not dismiss this case because an appeal is pending in the underlying personal injury action. ECF No. 13 at 2. Plaintiffs state they “would concur with Defendant[] that this action should be stayed pending the resolution of the Plaintiff's [Tiffany Martin's] appeal.” Id.

         In its reply to Plaintiffs' response in opposition, Defendant argues the disposition of Plaintiff Tiffany Martin's state court appeal in the personal injury action “will have no effect on the prematurity of the instant bad faith/breach of contract action, ” and therefore the instant action should be dismissed. ECF No. 14 at 3. Alternatively, ...


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