United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MICHAEL JEROME BROWN, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Laura Lee Brown PLAINTIFF
AMERICAN BANKERS INSURANCE COMPANY OF FLORIDA DEFENDANT
ORDER GRANTING JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendant's motion for judgment on the
pleadings (Docket No. 11) and motion to strike
Plaintiff's surreply (Docket No. 16). For the reasons
stated herein, both motions are granted.
12, 2017, a storm caused a tree to fall onto a mobile home in
Yazoo City, Mississippi. At the time of the storm, a
lender-placed insurance policy issued by Defendant covered
the mobile home. The policy listed the insured lender as
Ditech Financial, LLC and the borrower as Laura Brown.
Defendant retained Crawford & Company to inspect and
assess the damage to the mobile home. Crawford determined the
cost to repair the damage to be $22, 634.66, which exceeded
the policy limit of $13, 430. Consequently, Defendant issued
a check in the amount of $13, 430 to the insured lender,
Ditech, and to Michael Brown, as the administrator of the
estate of Laura Brown.
Plaintiff contends that Defendant misrepresented the policy
limits or, in the alternative, committed fraud because
Defendant charged an additional fee that did not provide a
benefit to the borrower. Based on these allegations,
Plaintiff filed this suit alleging misrepresentation,
negligence, breach of contract, bad faith refusal to pay
insurance benefits, fraud, and infliction of emotional
for judgment on the pleadings are governed by Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(c).
The standard for deciding a Rule 12(c) motion is the same as
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. The court accepts all
well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must plead enough
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that
all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if
doubtful in fact).
Guidry v. Am. Pub. Life Ins. Co., 512 F.3d 177, 180
(5th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
policy reflects a coverage period from July 25, 2016 to July
25, 2017. Plaintiff does not dispute that the storm occurred
in May 2017 and that Defendant issued a sum of $13, 430 for
the damage. Nevertheless, Plaintiff inexplicably contends
that this policy is inapplicable and, rather, a policy issued
two months after the storm with a policy limit of $33, 956 is
the relevant policy. By representing to Crawford a policy
limit of only $13, 430, and refusing to pay additional
amounts, Plaintiff argues this constituted misrepresentation,
negligence, breach of contract, and bad faith refusal to pay.
provides no authority or explanation for why the Court should
consider a policy issued two months after the storm damage
occurred as the applicable policy in this case.Defendant complied
with the appropriate insurance policy when it paid the policy
alternative, Plaintiff argues that if the policy limit is
$13, 430, then Defendant committed fraud by “charging a
fee which provides no benefit” to the borrower.
Plaintiff contends that the policy's
“Borrower's Property Coverage” endorsement,
which charged a $95 fee, entitles him to additional payments
beyond the policy limit reflected in the Declarations.
Defendant explains, and the text of the policy shows, that
this “Borrower's Property Coverage”
endorsement amended the term “property” to extend
coverage to mobile (or “manufactured”) homes, as
opposed to just personal property, in return for a $95
premium. Furthermore, the “Limit of Liability”
provision in the endorsement expressly provides that
Defendant's liability for loss or damage to the property
will be, at most, the limit of liability reflected in the
Declarations. See Docket No. 11-2.
responds that the “Borrower's Property
Coverage” endorsement is ambiguous and misleading
because (1) there is a separate “Basic Premium”
fee of $501, and (2) the endorsement is labeled as
“Borrower's Property ...