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Frantz v. Century-National Insurance Co.

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

July 3, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Defendant Century-National Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint (Doc. # 6), filed on April 29, 2019. Plaintiffs Jacob D. Frantz, Jan M. Mauricio, and John Mauricio responded on May 13, 2019. (Doc. # 16). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         On February 3, 2015, Frantz, a Florida citizen, was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. (Doc. # 1-1 at 2). While negligently operating his 1999 Land Rover, Frantz rear-ended a motor vehicle operated by John Mauricio, in which Jan Mauricio was a passenger. (Id.). The accident resulted in serious bodily injuries to Jan (Id.), and loss of consortium damages to John. (Doc. # 1 at 53).

         Frantz was insured by Century-National at the time of the accident. (Doc. # 1-1 at 2). Plaintiffs allege that the policy provides bodily injury liability coverage in this situation. (Id.). The policy states when “[a] compulsory insurance or similar law require[s] a nonresident to maintain insurance whenever the nonresident uses a vehicle in that state or province, [the] policy will provide at least the required minimum amounts and types of coverage.” (Doc. # 1 at 25).

         Claims for damages were made by the Mauricios against Frantz, and the claims were adjusted in Florida by Pro General Insurance Solutions, Inc. on behalf of Century-National. (Doc. # 1-1 at 2). On February 1, 2017, after Century-National failed to resolve the Mauricios' claims, the Mauricios filed a lawsuit against Frantz in the court of Common Pleas in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, alleging damages as a result of the February 3, 2015, accident. (Id. at 2-3). On March 27, 2017, the Mauricios' attorney notified Pro General, then acting on behalf of Century-National, that the Mauricios would accept $15, 000 - the Pennsylvania minimum financial responsibility limit - to resolve their claims against Frantz. (Id. at 4). Century-National did not settle the claims. Ultimately, a final judgment in favor of the Mauricios was entered against Frantz in the amount of $584, 438.04. (Id. at 5).

         On May 4, 2017, Century-National filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in Sarasota County, Florida, against Frantz, alleging that the policy issued to Frantz provided no bodily injury liability coverage. (Id. at 4). On May 16, 2017, copies of the summons and the complaint were served on Donald Frantz, father of Jacob D. Frantz, at Donald's home at 887 Leeward Road, Venice, Florida. (Id.). At the time of service, Frantz alleges he was over the age of 18 and not a resident of 887 Leeward Road, Venice, Florida. (Id.). He further alleges that 887 Leeward Road, Venice, Florida had not been his usual place of abode since at least October 2016. (Id.). Finally, Frantz alleges that he was never personally served with copies of the summons or the complaint. (Id.).

         On June 13, 2017, after securing a default from the Clerk of the Court, Century-National secured an order granting its motion for final default judgment against Frantz in the declaratory action. (Doc. # 1 at 78). The order granting the default judgment states: “ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that said Motion be, and the same is hereby GRANTED.” (Id.). The order also states: “Award CENTURY-NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY such additional affirmative relief as the Court deems just and appropriate under the circumstances, including attorney fees and all taxable costs of this action.” (Id. at 79).

         On March 21, 2019, Plaintiffs brought this action in the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit in and for Sarasota County, Florida. (Doc. # 1-1 at 1). Century-National timely removed this action to federal court based on diversity of citizenship. (Doc. # 1 at 1).

         The Complaint alleges two counts. Count I seeks relief from the state court order granting Century-National's motion for final default judgment under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b). In Count I, Plaintiffs allege Frantz was never properly served. (Doc. # 1-1 at 6). Plaintiffs further allege the state court order was based upon false representations by Century-National. (Id.). Count II alleges bad faith by Century-National. (Id. at 7). Plaintiffs allege that Century-National owed a fiduciary duty of good faith to Frantz to handle every aspect of the adjustment and defense of the Mauricios' claim against him fairly and honestly with due regard for his interests. (Id.). Plaintiffs allege that Century-National failed in all of its duties. (Id. at 8). Plaintiffs demand judgment against Century-National in the amount of the final judgment entered against Frantz in favor of the Mauricios. (Id. at 9).

         On April, 29, 2019, Century-National filed the instant Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. # 6). Plaintiffs have responded (Doc. # 16), and the Motion is ripe for review.

         II. Legal Standard

         On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), this Court accepts as true all the allegations in the complaint and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Jackson v. Bellsouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1262 (11th Cir. 2004). Further, this Court favors the plaintiff with all reasonable inferences from the allegations in the complaint. Stephens v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 901 F.2d 1571, 1573 (11th Cir. 1990). But,

[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual ...

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