United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
GREGORY STEVE PETER, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Wayne Michael Peters and G.P., a minor child, by and through his guardian ad litem, SILVI PETERS, Plaintiffs,
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING JUDGMENT ON THE
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge.
this action, Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that they
are eligible for benefits under the underinsured motorist
(“UIM”) provisions of a commercial automobile
insurance policy issued to Peter Peter LLC d/b/a/ Peter and
Peter (“Peter Peter LLC”) by Defendant Allstate
Insurance Company (“Allstate”) for claims arising
from a December 27, 2014 accident (“Accident”).
Plaintiffs are Gregory Steve Peter (“Gregory
Peter”), as personal representative of the estate of
Wayne Michael Peters (“Wayne Peters”), and G.P.,
a minor child, by and through his guardian ad litem, SILVI
matter is before the court on Allstate's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings. ECF No. 20. Allstate argues that
Wayne Peters and G.P. are not eligible for UIM benefits under
the policy because (1) they are not named insureds and cannot
be “family members” of a named insured because
business entities do not have family members, and (2) no
insured vehicle was involved in the Accident. For reasons set
forth below, the court grants Allstate's motion.
motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c) is assessed under the same standards as
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. See Walker v. Kelly, 589
F.3d 127, 139 (4th Cir. 2009). A motion under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) should be granted only if, after
accepting all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as
true, it appears certain the plaintiffs cannot prove any set
of facts in support of their claims that entitles them to
relief. See Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d
231, 244 (4th Cir. 1999). Although the court must take the
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, it
“need not accept the legal conclusions [the plaintiffs
would draw] from the facts.” Giarratano v.
Johnson, 521 F.3d 298, 302 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting
Eastern Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs. Ltd.
P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000)). The
court may also disregard any “unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” Id.
Rule 12(b)(6) standard has often been expressed as precluding
dismissal unless it is certain that the plaintiffs are not
entitled to relief under any legal theory that plausibly
could be suggested by the facts alleged. See Mylan Labs.,
Inc. v. Markari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993).
Nonetheless, the plaintiffs must allege “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544 (2007) (quoted in Giarratano, 521 F.3d at 302).
Complaint alleges Allstate issued commercial automobile
insurance policy number 648573106 (“Policy”) to
Peter Peter LLC and named On-Time Services, Inc.,
(“On-Time, Inc.”) as an additional insured.
Complaint ¶ 6. The Policy provided $300, 000 in UIM
coverage through a UIM endorsement (“UIM
Endorsement”). Id. ¶ 7. It also listed a
2004 Ford E450 truck as a covered vehicle. Id.. This
truck was kept, parked and used at 2004 Holland Street in
West Columbia, South Carolina. Id.
Policy was in effect on December 27, 2014, on which date
Wayne Peters was struck by a vehicle while crossing a street
in West Columbia, South Carolina. Id. ¶¶
6, 8 (noting Plaintiffs were pedestrians at the time of the
accident). Wayne Peters later died as a result of those
injuries. Id. ¶ 8. Plaintiff G.P. was present
and witnessed the accident. Id.
time of the accident, Wayne Peters and G.P. lived in the home
of their relative Gregory Peter at 2004 Holland Street.
Id. ¶ 10. Wayne Peters also assisted Gregory
Peter in running the day-to-day business of
“Gregory's various business concerns”
including Peter Peter LLC and On-Time, Inc. and was an
employee of one or both businesses. Id. ¶ 11.
Wayne Peters and his son, G.P., used the insured 2004 Ford
E450 truck from time to time, though there is no allegation
this vehicle was involved in the Accident.
driver allegedly responsible for the Accident was an
underinsured motorist. Complaint ¶ 9. After partially
resolving their claims against this driver (for payment to
the extent of his insurance coverage in exchange for a
covenant not to execute), Plaintiffs filed a claim for UIM
coverage with Allstate. Id. ¶¶ 9, 21.
Allstate denied the claim. Id. at 21.
assert a single cause of action for declaratory relief.
Specifically, they seek a declaratory judgment that Wayne
Peters and G.P. were insureds under the Policy at the time of
the Accident based on their status as “resident
relatives.” Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiffs rely on
South Carolina's statutory definition of insured, rather
than the policy definition, in support of this claim.
Id. ¶¶ 18, 19.
clear from the Complaint and attached Policy that Wayne
Peters and G.P. were not named insureds. Plaintiffs'
right to coverage must, therefore, derive either from a
provision of the Policy or a statutory mandate that extends
coverage to Plaintiffs as other insureds. Plaintiffs do not
allege or argue that they are entitled to coverage under the
Policy's definition of insureds or based on any other
Policy language. They, instead, argue, in effect, that the
Policy must be reformed to provide coverage because the
Policy's definition of insured conflicts with South
Carolina law. See ECF No. 25 at 5-7 (relying on
statutory provisions and case law in arguing Policy may not
limit coverage below what is required by ...