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Strimel v. Westfield Insurance Co.

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

April 9, 2014

DONNA S. STRIMEL, Plaintiff,
v.
WESTFIELD INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign corporation, Defendant.

Submitted February 19, 2014

Upon Consideration of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss DENIED

Barry Guerke, Esquire, Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze, P.A., Dover, Delaware for Plaintiff.

Wali W. Rushdan, II, Esquire, Fox Rothschild, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware for Defendant.

ORDER

ROBERT B. YOUNG J.

SUMMARY

Westfield Insurance Company ("Defendant") moves to dismiss a Complaint filed by Donna S. Strimel ("Plaintiff") pursuant to Sup. Ct. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff's Complaint involves personal injury protection benefits ("PIP benefits") related to an automobile collision that Plaintiff claims were wrongfully denied by Defendant. Plaintiff also contends that Defendant denied her benefits in bad faith, therefore, entitling her to punitive damages and attorney's fees. In this matter, discovery has not been completed. Therefore, it does not appear to a certainty that Plaintiff is not able to recover under any reasonably conceivable set of circumstances susceptible of proof. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL POSTURE

Allegedly, on May 10, 2010, Plaintiff sustained injuries resulting from an automobile accident on U.S. Route 13 southbound, near Dover, Delaware, while operating a 2008 Honda Element (the "Accident"). At the time of the Accident, Plaintiff was insured by Defendant's policy, which provided no-fault PIP benefits (the "policy"). The policy provided that Defendant would pay PIP benefits in accordance with Del. Code Ann. Tit. 21, Chapter 21, Subchapter 1, for the benefit of a person who sustained bodily injury caused by an accident "arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle and incurred within two years from the date of the accident." On December 2, 2010, in an Independent Medical Examination (the "IME"), the examining physician found that the treatments for which Plaintiff sought compensation were not causally related to injuries sustained in the Accident. On December 20, 2010, Defendant informed Plaintiff by letter that, based on the results of the IME, Defendant would not pay for Plaintiff's treatments.

On November 13, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint. On January 20, 2014, Plaintiff's counsel sent a Demand Letter for PIP benefits to Defendant. On January 31, 2014, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss. On February 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed its Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"A motion to dismiss under [Superior Court Civil] Rule 12(b)(6) presents the question of 'whether a plaintiff may recover under any reasonably conceivable set of circumstances susceptible of proof under the complaint.'"[1] "When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court must read the complaint generously, accept all well-[pled] allegations as true, and construe them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff."[2] "A complaint is 'well-plead' if it puts the opposing party on notice of the claim being brought against it. Dismissal is warranted only when 'under no reasonable interpretation of the facts alleged could the complaint state a claim for which relief might be granted.'"[3]

DISCUSSION

First, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint lacks sufficient facts to support its conclusion that Defendant wrongfully denied PIP benefits. 21 Del. Code ยง 2218(a)(2)(a), which governs automobile insurance requirements, states that insurers must pay "compensation to injured persons for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred within two years from the date of the accident." Defendant contends that, in Plaintiff's pursuit of obtaining reimbursement for medical expenses and lost income, Plaintiff fails to state what the "reasonable and ...


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