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Carranza v. Geico General Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

April 10, 2015

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 &

Steve D. Larson, Jennifer S. Wagner, 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"), GEICO General Insurance Company ("GEICO General"), and GEICO Indemnity Company ("GEICO Indemnity") (collectively, "Defendants"). Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claim against GEICO and GEICO General (collectively, "Moving Defendants"), because Plaintiff had no privity of contract with them and thus lacks standing. In a previous Opinion and Order, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claim against Moving Defendants for lack of standing, but granted Plaintiff leave to amend her Complaint. Opinion & Order, December 9, 2014 [47]. Because Plaintiff once again fails to allege facts sufficient to demonstrate that she has standing to bring a claim against Moving Defendants, the Court grants Defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff had two vehicles insured under one automobile insurance policy issued by GEICO Indemnity.[1] First Amended Complaint ("Am. Compl.") ¶¶ 13-15. 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. ¶ 14. 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. ¶ 15. When Plaintiff's claims were processed, she was charged a deductible for each vehicle. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit as a class action on behalf of all other current and former holders of GEICO automobile insurance policies that have been issued directly by GEICO or one or more of its affiliates, "GEICO General, GEICO Indemnity, et al., " with the language described and whose vehicles were involved in a collision with another vehicle insured under the same policy. Id. ¶¶ 1, 24.

STANDARDS

"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)).

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff amended her Complaint to allege that GEICO Indemnity and Moving Defendants are a "single, universal entity." Am. Compl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff argues that she has standing in her claims against all Defendants because there is a special relationship between them, such that they should be treated as a single entity, even though she purchased her policy from only GEICO Indemnity. Moving Defendants repeat their arguments from their previous motion to dismiss and argue that Plaintiff had no privity of contract with them and, therefore, Plaintiff lacks standing.

I. Previous Motion ...


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