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Childress v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

September 28, 2018

SID CHILDRESS, on behalf of herself and others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MARTHA VÁZQUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint with Prejudice [Doc. 6]. The Court, having considered the motion, briefs, and relevant law, and being otherwise fully informed, finds that the motion is well-taken and will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint are as follows. On August 14, 2017, at approximately 10:22 a.m. MT, Plaintiff Sid Childress received a telephone call on his cellular phone, which is listed on the national do-not-call registry. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 10. According to Plaintiff's caller identification, the telephone call came from telephone number 505-780-9813. Id. When Plaintiff answered the call, “he was greeted by a machine that played a pre-recorded message.” Id. The message indicated that the caller was “Jason” from “Cheap Insurance Experts.” Id. at ¶ 12. After listening to the prerecorded message and answering questions, Plaintiff was transferred to a “live person telemarketer employed by Defendant [Liberty Mutual Insurance Company] who identified himself as “Steve Ross” and indicated that he was located at a call center in Dallas, Texas. Id. at ¶ 11. Plaintiff began asking “Steve Ross” “questions related to Plaintiff's interest in why he was being robo-called” and who the telemarketer was. Id. at ¶ 14. “Steve Ross” then “hung up the phone on Plaintiff.” Id.

         An hour later, Plaintiff filed in state court his pro se Complaint for Violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Unfair Practices Act and Torts against Defendant. Plaintiff amended the complaint once as a matter of right on September 13, 2017, to correctly name Defendant and to add conduct by “lead generators” for his claim of vicarious liability. Defendant removed the case to this Court on October 19, 2017.

         On November 20, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in its entirety. Doc. 6. Thereafter, Plaintiff retained counsel, who entered an appearance on December 7, 2017. Doc. 14. On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed both a response in opposition to Defendant's motion, Doc. 19, and a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. Doc. 17.

         This Court referred Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend to Magistrate Judge Karen B. Molzen. On May 1, 2018, Judge Molzen entered her Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition (“PFRD”). Doc. 36. In the PFRD, the Court found that “Plaintiff's untimely proposed Second Amended Complaint represents the type of ‘moving target' that would introduce undue delay.” Id. at 6. The Court noted that Plaintiff - who “is not the typical pro se litigant”, but rather is “well-versed in pursuing claims involving the TCPA” - “clearly knew all of the information - factual and legal - on which the proposed changes [were] based.” Id. Further, the Court found that Defendant has already expended considerable fees and cost in pursuing its motion to dismiss, and that “the proposed expansion of this lawsuit from a single, offending phone call to potential nationwide class action, would require even greater resources to bring the case to a conclusion.” Id. No objections were filed to the PFRD, and on June 4, 2018, this Court entered an Order adopting the PFRD. Doc. 38. Thereafter, Defendant filed its reply in further support of its motion to dismiss. Doc. 40.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 12(b)(6), a Court may dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “The nature of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion tests the sufficiency of the allegations within the four corners of the complaint.” Mobley v. McCormick, 40 F.3d 337, 340 (10th Cir. 1994). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint, view those allegations in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1097 (10th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 1142 (2010).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citations omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'” Id. (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 557 (2007)).

         The Court in Iqbal identified “two working principles” in the context of a motion to dismiss. Id. First, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. Accordingly, Rule 8 “does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.” Id. at 678-79. “Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 679; see Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570 (holding that a plaintiff must “nudge” her claims “across the line from conceivable to plausible”). Accordingly, “where 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 shown - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (citation omitted).

         In keeping with these two principles, the Court explained,

a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine ...

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