United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
CHARLES B. GOODWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Farmers Insurance Company,
Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Claim of Bad
Faith (Doc. No. 27), brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has responded in
opposition (Doc. No. 29), and Defendant has replied (Doc. No.
Brandon Narr asserts claims for breach of contract and breach
of the duty of good faith and fair dealing based upon
allegations that Defendant failed to timely and properly
investigate, evaluate, and pay Plaintiff's claim of
property damage caused by an earthquake on April 15, 2014.
See Second Am. Compl. (Doc. No. 23). In its Motion,
Defendant asserts that Plaintiff's Second Amended
Complaint fails to state a plausible claim of breach of the
duty of good faith and fair dealing under the federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) prescribes that a defendant
may seek dismissal when the plaintiff “fail[s] to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). While “detailed factual allegations”
are not required, to survive a motion to dismiss a complaint
must set forth facts that, accepted as true, “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570
(2007). A claim is facially plausible when the well-pleaded
factual allegations, accepted as true and viewed in the
plaintiff's favor, “allow the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged” under the governing law.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); see
Warnick v. Cooley, 895 F.3d 746, 751 (10th Cir. 2018)
(“Though a complaint need not provide ‘detailed
factual allegations,' it must give just enough factual
detail to provide ‘fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” (omission
in original) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp., 550 U.S. at
555)). Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief is a “context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” See Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679.
the well-pleaded allegations in the Second Amended Complaint
as true, Plaintiff owns an interest in property located in
Norman, Oklahoma, that was damaged by an earthquake on April
15, 2014. Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 12. The property
was insured under a policy issued by Defendant. Id.
¶¶ 9-10. In March 2017, Plaintiff timely submitted
a claim to Defendant for the property damage incurred as a
result of the earthquake, but Defendant “denied that
most of the cause of Plaintiff's property damage claim
was due to [the] earthquake, or that the loss was covered
under the terms and conditions of the [p]olicy with
Defendant.” Id. ¶¶ 13-14.
to Plaintiff, Defendant retained Wallace Engineering on April
7, 2017, to perform an “earthquake damage
investigation.” Id. ¶ 15. Wallace
Engineering recommended to Defendant that the brick veneer of
the home be replaced and that a cracked slab be repaired.
Id. On May 8, 2017, Defendant performed an
inspection of Plaintiff's property and issued an estimate
of covered damages, which did not include costs for the
replacement of the brick veneer or the repair of the cracked
slab. See Id. ¶ 16.
further alleges that “Plaintiff received an estimate
from its Oklahoma-licensed contractor, which [Plaintiff]
provided to Defendant.” Id. ¶ 23.
Plaintiff's contractor estimated that the cost of repair
for the losses covered by the policy totalled $133, 876.01.
support of his claim of bad faith, Plaintiff avers that
Defendant “fail[ed] to timely and properly investigate,
evaluate and/or pay the Plaintiff's claim”
“in accordance with the recommendations made by
[Defendant's] own engineer.” Id. ¶
30. Plaintiff contends that these failures were
“intentional, willful, malicious, and in reckless
disregard to the rights of Plaintiff.” Id.
contends that Plaintiff's allegations are conclusory and
provide insufficient facts to state a plausible claim of
insurer's bad faith. In Defendant's view, the Second
Amended Complaint fails to allege that Defendant acted
unreasonably or with the requisite state of mind.
See Def.'s Mot. at 12-21.
Oklahoma law, an insurer has an implied duty of good faith
and fair dealing toward its insureds, and the violation of
that duty gives rise to an action in tort. Liability for the
breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
requires “‘a clear showing that the insurer
unreasonably, and in bad faith, withholds payment of the
claim of its insured.'” Harris v. Progressive
Direct Ins. Co., 740 Fed.Appx. 900, 908 (10th Cir. 2018)
(quoting Christian v. Am. Home Assurance Co., 577
P.2d 899, 905 (Okla. 1977)). “Bad faith cannot exist if
an insurer's conduct was reasonable under the
circumstances.” Barnes v. Okla. Farm
Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 11 P.3d 162, 170-71 (Okla. 2000).
To establish a cause of action against an insurance company
for bad faith under Oklahoma law, Plaintiff must show:
1) coverage under the insurance policy and that of the
insurer was required to take reasonable actions; 2) the
actions of the insurer were unreasonable under the
circumstances; 3) the insurer failed to deal fairly and act
in good faith toward the insured in its handling of the
claim; and 4) breach or violation of the duty of good faith