In Davis v. Wells Fargo, No. 15-2658, 2016 WL 3033938, at *2 (3d Cir. May 27, 2016), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals dealt with claims alleged under Pennsylvania law against "Assurant." The complaint contained allegations that Assurant was a force-placed property insurance carrier. In fact, the complaint contained allegations that Assurant "paid Wells Fargo kickbacks in exchange for the bank making Assurant the exclusive provider of force-placed insurance for bank-related properties" like Mr. Davis's.
One of the claims Mr. Davis alleged against Assurant was that it breached a contract which it had with him. Assurant's contract-breaching conduct was that it allegedly failed "to 'adequately investigate and pay the roof leak claim … which led to and caused the back wall of [Davis's] property to deteriorate and collapse.'" Davis attached the insurance company's letter disclaiming coverage to his complaint. The letterhead contained the names of both American Security Insurance Company ("ASIC") and also Assurant's name. "Thus, Assurant's name appeared, in bolded font, at the top of the letter denying Davis's insurance claim." Davis v. Wells Fargo, No. 15-2658, 2016 WL 3033938, at *12 (3d Cir. May 27, 2016).
As a result, said the Third Circuit, Mr. Davis's breach of contract allegations stated a plausible claim upon which relief could be granted under Pennsylvania substantive law. However, Mr. Davis's alleged bad faith claim failed under Pennsylvania law for the same reason. "Because Davis cannot maintain an independent cause of action for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing under Pennsylvania law, that claim should be dismissed …." Davis v. Wells Fargo, No. 15-2658, 2016 WL 3033938, at *13 (3d Cir. May 27, 2016).
Assurant filed a declaration containing testimony that ASIC, and not it, Assurant, was really the force-placed property insurance carrier in this matter. However, Assurant filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim which meant, as a matter of Federal Procedure, that the Federal Courts could not properly consider the declaration which contradicted the plaintiff's allegations -- and to say again, as the appellate court did, there was the matter of that disclaimer letter sent to Davis and attached to the complaint with Assurant on the letterhead denying coverage. Davis v. Wells Fargo, No. 15-2658, 2016 WL 3033938, at *12 (3d Cir. May 27, 2016).
Obviously the breach of contract claim would have withstood a motion to dismiss in this case if ASIC or whoever was the actual force-placed property insurer had filed the motion. The actual policy does not appear to have been made a part of the public record in this appeal.
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