United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division
CHARLES E. PURYEAR, Plaintiff,
THE HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE SOUTHEAST, ET AL., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Jones, United States District Judge.
B. Hines, II, Jonesville, Virginia, and John E. Jessee,
Jessee, Read & Howard, P.C., Abingdon, Virginia, for
Plaintiff; George E. Reede, Jr., and Jessica E. Pak, Niles,
Barton & Wilmer, LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Defendants
The Hartford Insurance Company of the Southeast, The Hartford
Insurance Company of the Midwest, and Trumbull Insurance
Company; James N. L. Humphreys, Hunter, Smith & Davis,
LLP, Kingsport, Tennessee, for Defendant Heritage Insurance
diversity action arises out of a commercial inland marine
insurance policy (the “Policy”) insuring certain
musical instruments. The insured has sued several insurance
companies as well as an insurance agent for failing to cover
the loss of the property in a fire. Two of the insurance
companies and the agent have moved to dismiss on the grounds
that the Complaint does not sufficiently allege that they
were parties to the insurance contract. For the reasons that
follow, I will grant the motions to dismiss.
Complaint alleges the following facts, which I must accept as
true for the purpose of deciding the motions to dismiss.
Insurance Company provided the Policy to plaintiff Charles E.
Puryear, the named insured, covering loss of a 1959 Les Paul
guitar for an amount up to $325, 000; a 1954 Stratocaster
guitar up to $45, 000; and a 1961 Bandmaster amplifier up to
$2, 000. The Policy insured against losses caused by fire,
among other things. Puryear obtained the Policy through
Heritage Insurance Services, Inc. The Hartford Insurance
Company of the Southeast and The Hartford Insurance Company
of the Midwest administered the Policy.
January 31, 2017, a fire at Puryear's home destroyed the
guitars and the amplifier. Puryear alleges that at that time,
the Les Paul guitar was worth at least $325, 000; the
Statocaster guitar was worth at least $45, 000; and the
Bandmaster amplifier was worth at least $2, 000.
filed a claim for the value of the instruments in accord with
the Policy. Puryear had paid the Policy premiums, and the
Policy was in full force and effect at the time he filed the
claim. However, Puryear alleges that the defendants have
failed to pay the funds due and owing as a result of the
destruction of the insured items. Puryear seeks damages from
the defendants, jointly and severally, in the amount of $372,
000, the total amount of the insured loss, along with
interest from the date of the loss, and costs and reasonable
filed his Complaint in state court, and the defendants timely
removed the case to this court. The defendants, other than
Trumbull Insurance Company, have moved to dismiss the
Complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The motions to dismiss are ripe for
pleading standards require that a complaint contain a
“short and plain statement of the claim showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss tests the legal
sufficiency of a complaint to determine whether the plaintiff
has properly stated a claim. See Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). In order
to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
“state a plausible claim for relief” that
“permit[s] the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct” based upon its
“judicial experience and common sense.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). In
evaluating a pleading, the court accepts as true all well-
pled facts and construes those facts in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See Id. at 678-79. A
complaint does not need detailed factual allegations to
survive a motion to dismiss; however, it must have more than
labels and conclusions or a recitation of the elements of the
cause of action. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 554, 555 (2007).
The Hartford Insurance Company of the Southeast and The
Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest, as well as
Heritage Insurance Services, Inc., have moved to dismiss the
Complaint for failure to state a claim because they contend
that they are not parties to the Policy and thus they are not
liable for the alleged breach of the Policy's terms.
Virginia law, an insurance policy is a contract, and the
principles applicable to all contracts likewise govern
insurance policies.Graphic Arts Mut. Ins. Co. v. C.W.
Warthen Co., 397 S.E.2d 876, 877 (Va. 1990). Insurance
agents acting on behalf of insurance issuers to obtain
coverage for others are not liable in suits alleging that the
issuer breached the insurance contract. Richards Corp. v.
McCarthy, Law No. 11849, 1991 WL 834889, at *1 (Va. Cir.
Ct. Mar. 27, 1991). While the Corporate Disclosure Statements
filed in this case show that all three of the insurance
companies sued are affiliated with The Hartford ...