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Artisan and Truckers Casualty Co. v. Aifa Trucking LLC.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 4, 2016

ARTISAN AND TRUCKERS CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
AIFA TRUCKING, LLC; SILVA TRUCKING, INC.; LUIS AVILA; MARIO CONTERAS and ANA HOLGUIN as Parents and Next Friends of VALERIA CONTERAS-HOLGUIN Deceased Minor; MARTIN ROJAS as Parent and Next Friend of XIMENA ROJAS Minor and ANGELA ROJAS Minor; MARIA DE LOURDES MACIAS; NORMA HOLGUIN as Parent and Next Friend of ENRIQUE OLIVAS Minor; RICKY HUFF; DONALD HUFF; GEORGE DREITH, Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

WILEY Y. DANIEL, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Abuse of Process Claim of Defendants Mario Conteras and Ana Holguin, as parents and next friends of Valeria Conteras-Holguin; Martin Rojas, individually and as parent and next friend of Ximena Rojas and Angela Rojas; Maria DeLourdes-Macias; and Norma Holguin, individually and as next friend of Enrique Olivas (ECF No. 26), filed on July 8, 2015. The matter is fully briefed.

On October 11, 2014, Defendant Luis Avila was driving a tractor trailer in Weld County, Colorado. Approaching stopped vehicles on the road, Avila failed to stop in time and swerved into the left lane. Upon swerving, his trailer collided with a car owned by Defendant Norma Holguin, and driven by Defendant Martin Rojas. Defendants Norma Holguin, Maria DeLourdes-Macias, Enrique Olivas, Valeria Conteras, Ximena Rojas, and Angela Rojas were passengers of the car. Valeria Conteras was pronounced dead at the scene. The other passengers suffered injuries as a result of the accident.

On March 9, 2015, Defendants Mario Conteras, Ana Holguin, Martin Rojas, Maria DeLourdes-Macias, and Norma Holguin (“Conteras Defendants”) filed a lawsuit in Weld County District Court against Luis Avila, AIFA Trucking, LLC, and Silva Trucking, Inc. for the wrongful death of Valeria Conteras and for injuries and damages suffered in the accident.

The Plaintiff in this case, Artisan and Truckers Casualty Company (“Artisan”), issued a Commercial Auto Insurance Policy to AIFA Trucking for the period from September 10, 2014 to September 10, 2015. The policy also contained a MCS-90 endorsement issued under the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1980. Artisan was not a named Defendant in the state court action.

The parties dispute Artisan’s liability under the applicable insurance policies. On April 8, 2015, Artisan filed a complaint in this Court for declaratory judgment against all of the Defendants referenced in the caption above, seeking judgment that the insurance policy it issued did not provide liability coverage, and that Artisan owes neither defense nor indemnity under the policy in connection with the underlying wrongful death Weld County state court action arising out of the subject accident.

On June 19, 2015, the Conteras Defendants filed an Answer to Plaintiff’s Complaint, and included two Counterclaims against Plaintiff: 1) seeking declaratory judgment of Artisan’s insurance liability for the underlying accident, and 2) claiming misuse and abuse of process by Plaintiff in filing the Complaint against the Conteras Defendants. Plaintiff urges the Court in the present motion to dismiss the abuse of process claim against it by the Conteras Defendants.

The Conteras Defendants seek damages, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorney’s fees. Plaintiff argues that the Conteras Defendants have failed to state a claim for which relief may be granted, and that the abuse of process claim should be dismissed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Although this standard does not require detailed factual allegations, it does require “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 678 (2007). Further, “a pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do’ . . . [n]or does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557).

A motion to dismiss can be granted if a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In order for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, it must contain “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id., citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Facial plausibility is met 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., citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556. The plausibility standard “asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, ” and indeed, when 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., citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557 (some quotations omitted).

If the facts do not permit a court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, “the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]’- ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, citing Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A “plaintiff must ‘nudge [ ][his] claims across the line from conceivable to plausible’ in order to survive a motion to dismiss. . . . Thus, the mere metaphysical possibility that some plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable ...


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