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WESTCHETER FIRE INSURANCE v. CAROLINA CASUALTY

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois


April 12, 2004.

Westchester Fire Insurance
v.
Carolina Casualty

The opinion of the court was delivered by: PHILIP REINHARD, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, Westchester Fire Insurance Co., individually and as subrogee, filed a two-count complaint based on diversity jurisdiction, naming as defendant, Carolina Casualty Insurance Co., and alleging an equitable subrogation claim for bad faith failure to settle (Count I) and a direct claim for bad faith failure to settle (Count II). Each count also seeks punitive damages. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), contending that both claims fail to "plead any facts supportive of the notion it was unreasonable for [defendant] to fail to settle" the underlying action. Defendant further maintains that plaintiff "must allege facts sufficient to establish the existence of the duty to settle in good faith." Defendant also argues that plaintiff has failed to properly plead a claim for punitive damages.

While Illinois substantive law may apply to this case, federal pleading rules, which require that a complaint only give notice of the plaintiff's claim, and not that it spell out the facts underlying the claim, govern in a diversity suit. Beanstalk Group. Inc. v. AM General Corp., 283 F.3d 856, 863 (7th Cir. 2002). The plaintiff is not required to plead facts or legal theories or case or statutes, but merely to describe his claim briefly and simply. Shah v. Inter-Continental Hotel Chicago Operating Corp., 314 F.3d 278, 282 (7th Cir. 2002). It is not necessary to plead sufficient facts to establish the legal elements of a claim. Head v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, 225 F.3d 794, 801 (7th Cir. 2000).

  In this case, plaintiff has adequately notified defendant of the claims against it, including those for punitive damages. From the nature of defendant's motion to dismiss, it appears that defendant understands the claims alleged. Accordingly, defendant's motion to dismiss is denied.

20040412

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