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Griggs v. American International Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 9, 2014

ALLEN GRIGGS, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the court are Defendant American International Group, Inc.'s ("AIG") motion to dismiss (Mot. to Dismiss (Dkt. # 14)), and Plaintiff Allen Griggs' motion to stay (Mot. to Stay (Dkt. # 18)). Mr. Griggs has sued his insurance company, National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. ("National Union") and its parent company AIG. ( See Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) AIG now asks to be dismissed from this case. ( See Mot.) AIG argues that National Union, not AIG, is the party properly named in this lawsuit. ( Id. ) AIG argues that it is not a proper party because it is not an insurance company but a holding company, and it does not have sufficient contacts with the state of Washington for the court to have personal jurisdiction. ( Id. ) In response, Mr. Griggs argues that AIG's motion is premature because he needs discovery to ascertain jurisdictional facts in response to the motion. ( See, e.g., Resp. (Dkt. # 17) at 2 ("This factual dispute cannot be resolved absent discovery.").) The court agrees with Mr. Griggs that a limited amount of jurisdictional discovery is appropriate and therefore DENIES the motion to dismiss without prejudice to refiling after 60 days as described below. As such, it is not necessary to stay a ruling on this motion and the court DENIES Mr. Griggs' motion to stay as moot.

II. BACKGROUND

Mr. Griggs is a truck driver. ( See Compl. ¶¶ 11-13.) In December 2009, he worked for Hendrickson Trucking, Inc., a trucking company based in Sacramento, California. ( Id. ) During this time, and in connection with this work, he was insured under an Occupational Accident Policy issued to Hendrickson by Defendant National Union. ( Id. ¶ 11.) The policy provided various benefits if Mr. Griggs suffered an injury in the course of his work. ( Id. ¶ 12.)

On December 12, 2009, Mr. Griggs suffered an accident on the job. He was attempting to attach a 30, 000-pound trailer to his truck in icy conditions when the trailer jack handle slipped. ( Id. ¶ 13.) Mr. Griggs fell down, severely injuring his left shoulder and cervical spine. ( Id. ) Following the accident, Mr. Griggs "took a break [from] truck driving in hopes that he would recover." ( Id. ) Instead, his condition worsened, and he incurred significant amounts of medical bills attempting to treat his injury. ( See id. ¶¶ 14-18.)

Mr. Griggs submitted a claim under his National Union Policy. ( Id. ¶ 22.) National Union paid some of his medical bills, but allegedly did so only "reluctantly and begrudgingly." ( Id. ) National Union also allegedly underpaid some benefits due and were "slow to pay" other benefits. ( Id. ) Mr. Griggs continued to receive medical treatment and to be examined by numerous doctors and chiropractors. ( Id. ¶¶ 23-35.) His pain eventually became more severe. ( Id. ¶ 30.) Meanwhile, payments from National Union ceased on December 11, 2011. ( Id. ¶ 34.)

Mr. Griggs claims he did not receive all of the benefits he was entitled to under his policy. He asserts that he was wrongfully denied permanent total disability payments. ( Id. ¶¶ 40-44.) On January 21, 2014, he filed this complaint against National Union and AIG, asserting claims for breach of contract, bad faith, violations of Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act ("IFCA"), and unfair or deceptive practices against disabled persons under Washington Civil Code § 3345. ( Id. ¶¶ 56-76.) He brought these claims against both National Union and AIG. ( See id. ) On May 1, 2014, AIG moved to dismiss, and on May 19, 2014, Mr. Griggs moved to stay a ruling on AIG's motion to dismiss. ( See Dkt.)

III. ANALYSIS

A. Standard on a Rule 12 Motion to Dismiss

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court should dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In determining whether to grant a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all "well-pleaded factual allegations" in the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate where the complaint lacks sufficient facts to support a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). To sufficiently state a claim and survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations" but the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Telesaurus VPC, LLC v. Power, 623 F.3d 998, 1003 (9th Cir. 2010). The court is not bound to accept as true labels, conclusions, formulaic recitations of the elements, or legal conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). As the Supreme Court said in Iqbal, a complaint must do more than tender "naked assertions' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

AIG also challenges personal jurisdiction, and a slightly different standard applies to that challenge. To challenge personal jurisdiction, a party must proceed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). It is the plaintiff's burden to establish that the court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Mavrix Photo, Inc. v. Brand Techs., Inc., 647 F.3d 1218, 1223 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011, 1015 (9th Cir. 2008)). In deciding a challenge to personal jurisdiction, the court may consider evidence presented in affidavits and may order discovery on jurisdictional issues if needed. Doe v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 922 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Data Disc, Inc. v. Sys. Tech. Assoc., Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1285 (9th Cir. 1977)). The plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand a motion to dismiss if the court does not hold an evidentiary hearing. Id. (quoting Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995)). In other words, the plaintiff need only demonstrate facts that, if true, would support jurisdiction. Id. The plaintiff cannot simply "rest on the bare allegations of its complaint, " but uncontroverted allegations in the complaint must be taken as true. Mavrix Photo, 647 F.3d at 1223 (quoting Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 800 (9th Cir. 2004)). The court need not accept the plaintiff's bare allegations if the defendant controverts them with evidence. See AT&T v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th Cir. 1996). If both parties provide evidence supporting different versions of a fact, however, the court must resolve competing inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs., Inc. v. Bell & Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, 1128-29 (9th Cir. 2003).

The court may, in its discretion, order jurisdictional discovery. Jurisdictional discovery "may be appropriately granted where pertinent facts bearing on the question of jurisdiction are controverted or where a more satisfactory ...


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