United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
RICK JAMES CARTE and ROCK WAYNE CARTE, as Special Administrators of the Estate of Adah Lorraine Carte, Deceased PLAINTIFFS
OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, JUDGE
pending before the Court are Defendant Owners Insurance
Company's ("Owners") Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
24) and Brief in Support (Doc. 25). Plaintiffs Rick James
Carte and Rock Wayne Carte, as Special Administrators of the
Estate of Adah Lorraine Carte, Deceased, filed a Response in
Opposition to the Motion (Doc. 26) but did not file a brief
in support. The Response does nothing more than admit or deny
the facts corresponding to each paragraph of the Motion.
Motion is more properly described as one requesting judgment
on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 12(c),
rather than one seeking dismissal under Rule 12(b), since
Owners filed an Answer (Doc. 23) to the Second Amended
Complaint (Doc. 22) prior to filing the Motion. In any event,
the distinction between a motion for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c) and a motion to dismiss under Rule
12(b)(6) "is purely formal, because we review [a] 12(c)
motion under the standard that governs 12(b)(6)
motions." Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d
1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990). The operative complaint must
present "a short and plain statement of the claim that
the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). The intention of this is to "give the defendant
fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon
which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 93 (2007) (quoting BellAtl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In evaluating the sufficiency of
the complaint, a court assumes that "all factual
allegations in the pleadings are true and interprets] them in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party."
Bell v. Pfizer, Inc., 716 F.3d 1087, 1091 (8th Cir.
2013) (internal quotation omitted).
so, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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."
Id. "A pleading that offers 'labels and
conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders 'naked assertion[s]'
devoid of 'further factual enhancement.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
Motion now before the Court, Owners seeks dismissal of Count
Two of the Second Amended Complaint, which is a claim for bad
faith in the insurance context. Plaintiffs Second Amended
Complaint states that Owners first denied both of the
insurance claims at issue in the case on July 22, 2015. Then,
Owners reopened the investigation into the claims on December
15, 2015 (Doc. 22, p. 2), and later, on an unspecified date,
"Defendant denied both of Plaintiff's insurance
claims for the second time." Id. (emphasis
added). Attached to the Second Amended Complaint are
documents that indicate that on October 8, 2018, Rick James
Carte and Rock Wayne Carte were officially appointed by the
Boone County Circuit Clerk to act as Special Administrators
of their mother's estate. See Doc. 22-1. They
filed the Second Amended Complaint two days later, on October
to the bad faith claim itself, the statute of limitations is
three years. See Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-105.
Owners contends that more than three years have passed since
the last essential element of the claim accrued. See
Carpenter v. Auto. Club Interinsurance Exch., 58 F.3d
1296, 1300 (8th Cir. 1995) ("[U]nder applicable Arkansas
case law, a [bad faith] claim accrues for purposes of
applying the three-year statute of limitations, when the
allegedly wrongful act or omission occurs."). Owners
assumes the claim accrued on July 22, 2015, the date that
Owners first denied the insurance claims at issue here. But
the Second Amended Complaint states that Owners reopened the
insurance claims after the initial denial, investigated
further, and issued a second denial at some point after
December 15, 2015.
Owners is right, and the claim accrued on July 22, 2015, then
the statute of limitations on the claim would have expired on
July 22, 2018. If Plaintiffs are right, and the claim accrued
after December 15, 2015, then the claim would have expired on
some unspecified date after December 15, 2018. The Second
Amended Complaint was filed after July 22, 2018, but before
December 15, 2018. Because the parties did not brief the
issue of the disputed accrual date, and it appears the
resolution of that dispute is critical to determining whether
the bad faith claim was filed out of time, the Court must
deny Owners' Rule 12(c) motion. The Court must assume the
facts set forth in the operative complaint are true, and all
inferences concerning those facts must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. In denying the motion,
the Court makes no specific findings as to whether the Second
Amended Complaint relates back to the original complaint or
the first amended complaint, both of which were filed before
July 22, 2018.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Owners Insurance
Company's ("Owners") Motion to ...