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Estate of Hibbard v. Hibbard

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

May 31, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction (Doc. 11) and the Motion to Dismiss Count III (Doc. 12) filed by Defendant Jeanne Hibbard, as well as the responses in opposition to those motions (Doc. 26, 28) filed by the Plaintiff, the Estate of Richard Brookes Hibbard (henceforth, the “Estate”), and Jeanne Hibbard's reply (Doc. 39) to those responses.

         I. Background

         Richard Brookes Hibbard died on October 3, 2016. At the time, he was residing in Florida. Shortly thereafter, his estate was opened in Volusia County. Five years earlier, while living in New Hampshire, he had purchased an annuity from Defendant Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (“Allianz”), naming his then-wife, Jeanne Hibbard, as the beneficiary. In July 2013, the Hibbards - still residing in New Hampshire - were divorced.

         Richard Brookes Hibbard never changed the beneficiary designation on the Allianz annuity. Shortly after the death of her former husband, Jeanne Hibbard obtained approximately $97, 000 from his account with Allianz. On January 10, 2018, the Estate filed the instant suit claiming, inter alia, that a Florida statute had automatically revoked the beneficiary designation of the Allianz annuity at the time of the divorce, meaning that Jeanne Hibbard was not entitled to the $97, 000. By way of the instant motions, Jeanne Hibbard contends that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case and, in the alternative, that the Florida statute did not apply to the beneficiary designation of the Allianz annuity.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction Challenges

         Attacks on subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) take two forms: facial or factual. Facial attacks on the complaint merely require that the court look and see if the plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a basis of subject matter jurisdiction, and the allegations in the complaint are taken as true for the purposes of the motion. Lawrence v. Dunbar, 919 F.2d 1525, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). Factual attacks, on the other hand, challenge the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, irrespective of the pleadings, and matters outside the pleadings, such as testimony and affidavits, are considered. Id.

         B. Rule 12(b)(6) motions

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” so as to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957), overruled on other grounds, Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim merely tests the sufficiency of the complaint; it does not decide the merits of the case. Milburn v. United States, 734 F.2d 762, 765 (11th Cir.1984). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must accept the factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. SEC v. ESM Group, Inc., 835 F.2d 270, 272 (11th Cir.1988). The Court must also limit its consideration to the pleadings and any exhibits attached thereto. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c); see also GSW, Inc. v. Long County, Ga., 999 F.2d 1508, 1510 (11th Cir. 1993).

         The plaintiff must provide enough factual allegations to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 127 S.Ct. at 1966, and to indicate the presence of the required elements, Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1302 (11th Cir. 2007). Conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual deductions or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal. Davila v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 326 F.3d 1183, 1185 (11th Cir. 2003).

         In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), the Supreme Court explained that a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, “but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. 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 assertions devoid of further factual enhancement.” Id. at 1949 (internal citations and quotations omitted). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - ‘that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.'” Id. at 1950 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         III. Analysis

         A. The ...

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