Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Yazzie v. Government Employees Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 16, 2018

LISA YAZZIE et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KIRTAN KHALSA United States Magistrate Judge .

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Government Employees Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claim for Malicious Abuse of Process (Doc. 130), filed September 27, 2017, in which Defendants seek dismissal, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of Plaintiff's claim of malicious abuse of process (Count V of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint) (Doc. 1 at 7, 10). Plaintiffs' Response to Defendant GEICO's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claim for Malicious Abuse of Process (Doc. 135) was filed on October 11, 2017. Government Employees Insurance Company's Reply in Support of its Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claim for Malicious Abuse of Process (Doc. 142) was filed on October 23, 2017. The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions, the record, and the relevant law. For the reasons stated herein, the Court concludes that Defendants' Motion is well taken and shall be granted.

         I. Standards Governing a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

         To withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must contain sufficient allegations of fact, taken as true, “to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” In Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “In determining the plausibility of a claim, we look to the elements of the particular cause of action[.]” Safe Streets All. v. Hickenlooper, 859 F.3d 865, 878 (10th Cir. 2017) (alteration omitted). “[A] claim is facially plausible if the plaintiff has pled factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. In applying these standards, the Court accepts as true “all plausible, non-conclusory, and non-speculative” facts alleged in the complaint. Shrader v. Al Biddinger, 633 F.3d 1235, 1242 (10th Cir. 2011). However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). And a complaint that offers “mere labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not suffice[.]” Safe Streets All., 859 F.3d at 878.

         II. Relevant Factual and Procedural Background

         This case is based upon a dispute between Plaintiffs Lisa and Ernest Yazzie and their insurance company, Defendant Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) and two of its employees concerning Plaintiffs' claim for uninsured motorist bodily injury benefits under a UM/UIM policy provision of their automobile insurance contract with GEICO. (Doc. 1 at 3-7.) The following factual allegations are taken from Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint (hereinafter “the Complaint”). (Doc. 1 at 7.)

         On January 17, 2017, when Ms. Yazzie was driving and Mr. Yazzie was her passenger, both were injured in an automobile crash that was caused by the negligent driving of Patricia Brown. (Doc. 1 at 9-10, ¶¶ 17-18, 21.) Ms. Brown's vehicle was uninsured. (Doc. 1 at 10, ¶¶ 22, 24.) Plaintiffs both suffered serious personal injuries as a result of the crash. (Doc. 1 at 9-10, ¶ 20.)

         The vehicle occupied by Plaintiffs was insured by a GEICO policy that covered two vehicles, each with $25, 000/$50, 000 of uninsured motorist coverage. (Doc. 10 at 10, ¶¶ 25-26.) After the crash, Defendants “represented” to Plaintiffs that each of them had $50, 000 in available uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. (Doc. 1 at 10, ¶ 27.) Defendants also promised to pay uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) benefits under the policy for all injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiffs as a direct and proximate cause of the accident for which they were not compensated in prior settlements. (Doc. 1 at 10, ¶ 28.) GEICO also promised to pay Plaintiffs “the same amount that the uninsured driver would be required to pay.” (Doc. 1 at 12, ¶ 40.) On January 13, 2016, Plaintiffs made a written claim for payment of UMBI benefits under the policy. (Doc. 1 at 11, ¶ 35.) On January 25, Defendant GEICO rejected Plaintiffs' claim for payment.[1] (Doc. 1 at 11, ¶ 36.)

         In the course of their dealings with the Yazzies in this regard, Defendants: chose not to investigate and process Plaintiffs' claim in a timely manner; misrepresented the UMBI coverage; and unreasonably denied benefits that, it is reasonably clear, were owed to Plaintiffs under the terms of the policy. (Doc. 1 at 10-11, ¶¶ 29-34.) Of particular relevance to the Motion presently before the Court, Plaintiffs allege that:

Defendants have maliciously, deliberately and willfully refused to pay Plaintiffs UMBI benefits under the policy with the intent to force Plaintiffs to institute this litigation-and to litigate their legitimate claim through verdict-as the only means available to them to achieve payment of UMBI benefits due under the policy. . . . [And] Defendants are intentionally, willfully and maliciously forcing Plaintiffs to litigate their right to UMBI benefits due under the policy pursuant to an institutional policy maliciously intended to cause Plaintiffs needless expense and thereby delay payment in order to extort and harass Plaintiffs into accepting less than the full amount of UMBI benefits reasonably due under the policy.

(Doc. 1 at 11-12, ¶¶ 38-39.)

         Based upon all of the foregoing allegations, but particularly based upon those contained in paragraphs 38 and 39 of the Complaint, Plaintiffs lawsuit against GEICO includes a claim of malicious abuse of process, which claim comprises Count V of Plaintiff's five-count Complaint. (Doc. 1 at 16.) In direct support of Count V (listed under the heading), Plaintiff alleges that:

Defendants have improperly, maliciously and intentionally abused, and will continue to improperly, maliciously and intentionally abuse, the processes and procedures of this Court [including but not limited to motions and discovery processes and procedures] to achieve a purpose for which these processes and procedures were never intended, i.e, GEICO's intent to improperly, maliciously and intentionally abuse these litigation processes and procedures to delay, harass and extort Plaintiffs into accepting less than the full amount of UMBI policy benefits due to them.
As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' malicious abuse of process Plaintiffs have suffered, and will continue to suffer, compensatory damages in ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.