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Carranza v. Geico General Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

December 9, 2014

SABRINA GRETE CARRANZA, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY, and GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants. OPINION &

Keil M. Mueller Steve D. Larson, STOLL STOLL BERNE LOKTING & SHLACHTER P.C. Portland, OR, Rodney F. Pillsbury (pro hac vice) PILLSBURY & READ, P.A. Greenville, SC, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

Douglas G. Houser, Stuart D. Jones BULLIVANT HOUSER BAILEY PC Portland, OR, Sheila Carmody (pro hac vice), Joshua Grabel (pro hac vice), SNELL & WILMER LLP, Phoenix, AZ, Attorneys for Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNNDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Sabrina Carranza brings this class action lawsuit alleging breach of contract against Defendants Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO General Insurance Company, and GEICO Indemnity Company (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiff had an automobile insurance policy with GEICO Indemnity Company (GEICO Indemnity). Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claim against Government Employees Insurance Company and GEICO General Insurance Company, because they argue that Plaintiff had no privity of contract with them and thus lacks standing to bring a claim. Alternatively, Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted and the motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied as moot.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff had two vehicles insured under one automobile insurance policy issued by GEICO Indemnity Company.[1] Compl. ¶ 12. The policy provided that, in the event of a collision, the insurance company would "pay for the collision loss to the owned auto or non-owned auto for the amount of each loss less the applicable deductible." Id . ¶ 11. The policy also stated that "losses arising out of a single occurrence shall be subject to no more than one deductible." Id . Plaintiff's two vehicles collided with each other. Id . ¶ 12. When Plaintiff's claims were processed, she was charged a deductible for each vehicle. Id . ¶ 14-16. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit as a class action on behalf of all other current and former holders of automobile insurance policies from Defendants with the language described and whose vehicles were involved in a collision with another vehicle insured under the same policy. Id . ¶ 12.

STANDARDS

I. Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

"A suit brought by a plaintiff without Article III standing is not a case or controversy, ' and an Article III federal court therefore lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the suit." Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169, 1174 (9th Cir. 2004). A challenge to standing is appropriately raised as a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Maya v. Centex Corp., 658 F.3d 1060, 1067 (9th Cir. 2011).

To establish Article III constitutional standing, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) an injury-in-fact, (2) a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of, and (3) the redressability of the injury. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). "[A] named plaintiff cannot acquire standing to sue by bringing his action on behalf of others who suffered injury which would have afforded them standing had they been named plaintiffs.... Standing cannot be acquired through the back door of a class action." Allee v. Medrano, 416 U.S. 802, 828 (1974) (internal quotation omitted).

If the court determines a suit lacks constitutional standing, it must dismiss the claim under Rule 12(b)(1). Cetacean Cmty, 386 F.3d at 1174. In determining constitutional standing, "it is within the trial court's power to allow or to require the plaintiff to supply, by amendment to the complaint or by affidavits, further particularized allegations of fact deemed supportive of plaintiff's standing." Maya, 658 F.3d at 1067 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975)).

II. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) allows a motion for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial. Rule 12(c) is "functionally identical" to Rule 12(b)(6) and "the same standard of review" applies to motions brought under either rule. Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Judgment on the pleadings is proper when there are no issues of material fact and the moving ...


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