United States District Court, D. Delaware
S. Spadaro, JOHN SHEEHAN SPADARO, LLC, Smyrna, DE Attorney
Thaddeus J. Weaver, DILWORTH PAXSON LLP, Wilmington, DE
Attorney for Defendant.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court are: (i) Defendant Amguard Insurance
Company's ("Defendant" or "Amguard")
motion to dismiss Plaintiff Jalen Benson's
("Plaintiff or "Benson") complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) ("Motion to
Dismiss"); and (ii) Defendant's motion to strike
portions of Plaintiff s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(f) ("Motion to Strike"). (D.I.
4) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and will grant in part and
deny in part Defendant's Motion to Strike.
was employed as a "bagger" at Seaford Ice, Inc.,
("Seaford Ice") in May 2015. (See D.I. 1-1
Ex. 1 ¶¶ 3, 8) "In that capacity, [Plaintiffs]
job duties required him to bag ice" in Seaford Ice's
bagging room. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 10) Ordinarily,
ice would flow to the bagging room from the gantry room.
(See Id. ¶ 10) However, at times during
"the normal course of operations ..., the flow of ice
... to the bagging room would ... be interrupted."
(Id. ¶ 13) "When such interruptions
occurred, it was not unusual for an employee working in the
bagging room to enter the gantry room to determine why the
flow of ice had stopped." (Id.) Employees
entering the gantry room would walk on a closed metal grate
that formed part of the gantry room's floor surface.
(See Id. ¶ 12) The metal grate also covered
"[a] large augur [that] turn[ed] beneath the floor of
the gantry room." (Id.)
28, 2015, the gantry room's metal grate was left open,
and the augur was still turning. (See Id. ¶ 18)
Plaintiff "was working in the bagging room ... when the
flow of ice from the gantry room to the bagging room was
interrupted." (Id. ¶ 17) Thus, as per
customary practice (see Id. ¶ 13), Plaintiff
"entered the gantry room to determine why the ice flow
had stopped" (id. ¶ 17). Unaware and
unwarned of the open metal grate and the still-turning augur
(see Id. ¶ 18), Plaintiff "proceeded
through the gantry room [and] ... accidentally fell into the
opening in the floor grate" (id. ¶ 19).
"The still-turning augur caused ... injury to
[Plaintiff], resulting in [the] amputations of both of
[Plaintiffs] legs, along with soft tissue injury and injury
to [Plaintiffs] back." (Id.) As a result of his
injuries, Plaintiff "was rendered totally disabled from
work." (Id. ¶ 20)
submitted his workers' compensation claim to Defendant -
Seaford Ice's insurer - on the same day he was injured.
(See Id. ¶¶ 5, 23-26) Defendant denied
Plaintiffs claim on July 9, 2015. (See Id.
¶¶ 26, 28) In its letter denying Plaintiffs claim,
Defendant stated that Plaintiff was ineligible for benefits
because "it appear[ed] that [Plaintiff] was not within
the scope of his employment" at the time of his
accident. (Id. ¶ 31) (internal quotation marks
and Defendant litigated the denial of Plaintiff s
workers' compensation claim before the Delaware
Industrial Accident Board ('TAB"). (See Id.
¶¶ 16, 42) During the proceedings before the IAB,
Defendant "abandoned" its argument that Plaintiff
was not within the scope of his employment and instead argued
"that [Plaintiffs] accident did not arise in the course
of his employment." (Id. ¶ 39) (emphasis
omitted) The IAB awarded Plaintiff workers' compensation
benefits in October 2015. (See Id. ¶ 42) In
doing so, the IAB rejected Defendant's argument, finding
"no evidence" that Plaintiff was "working
outside the course of his employment... at the time of his
... accident." (Id.) (internal quotation marks
instant case, Plaintiff challenges Defendant's handling
of his workers' compensation claim. (See Id.
¶ 21) Specifically, Plaintiff claims that
Defendant's conduct during the claims process and IAB
proceedings "evinced a profound indifference to
[Plaintiffs] contractual rights, statutory rights, and
general well-being, . . . caus[ing] [Plaintiff] egregious
harm." (Id. ¶ 43) With respect to his
contractual rights, in particular, Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant acted in bad faith in arguing that Plaintiffs
accident arose outside the course of his employment, because
Seaford Ice neither officially nor unofficially barred
employees from entering the gantry room. (See Id.
¶¶ 13-16, 53)
of Defendant's allegedly wrongful conduct, Plaintiff
filed suit against Defendant in Delaware Superior Court on
February 29, 2016. (See Id. at 1, 17) Plaintiffs
complaint alleges the following causes of action: declaratory
judgment (Count I); bad faith breach of contract (Count II);
a violation of the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act, Del. Code
Ann. tit. 6, § 2513(a) (Count III); and intentional or
reckless infliction of emotional distress (Count IV).
(See Id. ¶¶ 48, 53, 56, 61)
March 28, 2016, Defendant removed the case to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446.
(D.I. 1) Subsequently, on March 29, 2016, Defendant filed the
instant Motion to Dismiss Counts I and III of Plaintiff s
complaint and the instant Motion to Strike portions of
Plaintiff s complaint. (D.I. 4)
Motion to Dismiss
a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) requires the Court to accept as true all material
allegations of the complaint. See Spruill v. Gillis,
372 F.3d 218, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). "The issue is not
whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail but whether the
claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the
claims." In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec.
Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1420 (3d Cir. 1997) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Thus, the Court may grant such a
motion to dismiss only if, after "accepting all
well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true, and
viewing them in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
plaintiff is not entitled to relief." Maio v. Aetna,
Inc., 221 F.3d 472, 482 (3d Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
"[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a civil plaintiff
must allege facts that 'raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).'"
Victaulic Co. v. Tieman,499 F.3d 227, 234 (3d Cir.
2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible "when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). At bottom, "[t]he complaint
must state enough facts to raise a reasonable expectation
that discovery will reveal evidence of [each] ...