United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MALAIKA COLEMAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
GARRISON PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE CO. and UNITED SERVICES AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Virginia M. Kendall Judge.
Garrison Property & Casualty Insurance Co.
(“Garrison”) and United Service Automobile
Association (“USAA”) (together,
“Defendants”) move to dismiss the complaint under
Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state valid breach of contract
claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 20].
Malaika Coleman brings this action individually and on behalf
of two classes against her car insurance provider. Plaintiff
totaled her car and sought reimbursement from her insurer.
She alleges she was harmed because her insurer did not
include the costs of sales tax and title transfer fees in the
reimbursement. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' failure
to pay those costs is a breach of her insurance agreement.
(Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 1-5.) Plaintiff's two-count
complaint includes a breach of contract claim against each
Defendant. (Id. ¶¶ 62-82.) Defendants move
to dismiss Plaintiff's individual claims only and note
that the “putative class claims are not at issue”
in the motion. (Dkt. 21 at 4.)
had car insurance through Defendants for her 2006 Chrysler
300. (Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 26, 42.) On September 7, 2018,
Plaintiff was involved in an accident while driving her car
and filed a property damage claim with Defendant Garrison.
(Id. ¶ 43.) Defendants determined that
Plaintiff's car was a total loss with a base value of $3,
466.00. (Id. ¶ 44.) Defendants paid Plaintiff
that amount plus a $25 license/tag transfer fee, but did not
pay her the costs of sales tax ($216.25) or title transfer
fees ($95). (Id. ¶¶ 47-49.)
USAA insurance policy provides that Defendants will pay for
each “loss” to a covered auto. (Id.
¶ 26; see also Dkt. 1-1 at 26.) The policy
defines “loss” as “direct and accidental
damage, ” which “includes a total loss, but does
not include any damages other than the cost to repair or
replace.” (Id. ¶ 28; see also
Dkt. 1-1 at 25.) The limit of USAA's liability for loss
is “the actual cash value of the vehicle, ” which
the policy defines as “the amount it would cost, at the
time of loss, to buy a comparable vehicle.”
(Id. ¶¶ 29-30; see also Dkt. 1-1
at 25.) The policy does not define “actual cash
value” as excluding the costs of sales taxes or title
fees. (Id. ¶ 32.) Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants breached their agreement by not including the
costs of sales tax or title transfer fees in the
“actual cash value” payment for her total loss.
(Id. ¶¶ 37-38, 50.)
survive a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6), a complaint must
‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'” Adams v. City of Indianapolis, 742
F.3d 720, 728 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has
facial plausibility 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. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 566 U.S.
662, 678 (2009)). “[I]t is not enough for a complaint
to avoid foreclosing possible bases for relief; it must
actually suggest that the plaintiff has a right to relief . .
. by providing allegations that ‘raise a right to
relief above the speculative level.'” E.E.O.C.
v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 777 (7th
Cir. 2007) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)
(emphasis in original).
Court construes the complaint and attached exhibits “in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, accept[s]
well-pleaded facts as true, and draw[s] all inferences in her
favor.” Reynolds, 623 F.3d at 1146.
“[L]egal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely
reciting the elements of the claim are not entitled to this
presumption of truth.” McCauley v. City of
Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing
Iqbal, 566 U.S. at 678). “Where an exhibit and
the complaint conflict, the exhibit typically
controls.” Forrest v. Universal Sav. Bank,
F.A., 507 F.3d 540, 542 (7th Cir. 2007). “A court
is not bound by the party's characterization of an
exhibit and may independently examine and form its own
opinions about the document.” Id.
argue that Plaintiff's breach of contract claims fail
because Defendants are not obligated to pay Plaintiff's
sales tax and title fees. Defendants argue that nothing in
the policy requires them to pay those costs and that they are
not required to do so as a matter of Illinois law.
Plaintiff's Insurance Policy
succeed on her breach of contract claims, Plaintiff must
demonstrate 1) the existence of a valid contract, 2) that she
substantially performed her obligations, 3) that defendant
breached, and 4) resulting damages. Dual-Temp of Ill.,
Inc. v. Hench Control, Inc., 821 F.3d 866, 869
(7th Cir. 2016). “A breach can only exist
where a party fails to carry out a term, promise, or
condition of a contract.” Officemax, Inc. v. NHS
Human Servs., Inc., No. 16 C 9111, 2017 WL 1022078, at
*2 (N.D. Ill. March 15, 2017) (citations omitted). The only
element at issue in Defendants' motion is whether
Plaintiff adequately pleaded a breach.
argues that Defendants promised to pay her the “actual
cash value” for her totaled car, which she argues
includes sales tax and title transfer fees. The only policy
provision Plaintiff cites to support her theory is the one
defining “actual cash value” as “the amount
it would cost, at the time of loss, to buy a comparable
vehicle.” (Dkt. 1 ¶ 37; see also Dkt. 25
at 4.) Plaintiff alleges that sales tax and title fees are
“necessary and mandatory vehicle replacement costs in
the State of Illinois, ” citing the relevant Illinois
statutes (see Dkt. 1 ¶ 34), and concludes that
because those taxes and ...