United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. Keesler, United States Magistrate Judge
MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on “Defendant
Benefitfocus.com, Inc.'s Motion To Dismiss
Plaintiff's First Claim For Relief” (Document No.
8). The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and this
motion is now ripe for disposition. Having carefully
considered the arguments, the record, and the applicable
authority, the undersigned will order that the motion be
Wooten Schmitz (“Plaintiff” or
“Schmitz”) initiated this action with the filing
of a “Complaint” (Document No. 1-3, pp. 36-46) in
the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on
August 25, 2016. Plaintiff later filed an “Amended
Complaint” (Document No. 1-3, pp.2-15) in state court
on October 13, 2016. The Amended Complaint asserts claims
against Benefitfocus.com (“Benefitfocus”) and
Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company
(“Hartford”) (together, “Defendants”)
for unfair and deceptive trade practice and negligence.
(Document No. 1-3, pp.12-15). Plaintiff is the widow of Adam
Schmitz, and she contends that based on Defendants'
unfair and deceptive acts and their negligence, she was
unable to receive the benefits of life insurance policies
purchased by her husband while employed with
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (“CMS”). (Document
November 11, 2016, Defendants filed a “Joint Notice Of
Removal” (Document No. 1) removing the lawsuit to this
Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and
1446. Defendants both filed Answers to the Amended Complaint,
and Benefitfocus filed its pending “…Motion To
Dismiss…, ” on November 18, 2016. (Document Nos.
8, 9, and 10). Defendant Benefitfocus only seeks dismissal of
Plaintiff's first claim - unfair and deceptive trade
practices. (Document No. 8-10.
parties filed a joint stipulation of consent to Magistrate
Judge jurisdiction and their certification of initial
attorney's conference on December 7, 2017. (Document Nos.
16 and 17). A “Pretrial Order And Case Management
Plan” (Document No. 20) was issued on December 13,
2016, and includes the following deadlines: expert reports -
May 12 and June 14, 2017; discovery completion - August 4,
2017; mediation report - September 1, 2017; dispositive
motions - September 8, 2017; and trial - beginning on or
after January 2, 2018.
December 13, 2016, the pending motion to dismiss was fully
briefed and is now ripe for review and disposition.
See (Document Nos. 15 and 21).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the
“legal sufficiency of the complaint” but
“does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the
merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.”
Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943,
952 (4th Cir. 1992); Eastern Shore Markets, Inc. v. J.D.
Assoc. Ltd. Partnership, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir.
2000). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss will survive if it contains “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 697 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)); see also, Robinson v. American Honda
Motor Co., Inc., 551 F.3d 218, 222 (4th Cir. 2009).
“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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
The Supreme Court has also opined that Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Specific facts are not necessary; the
statement need only “‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” In addition, when ruling on a
defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as
true all of the factual allegations contained in the
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56).
for the purposes of this motion to dismiss we must take all
the factual allegations in the complaint as true, we are not
bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a
factual allegation.” Papasan v. Allain, 478
U.S. 265, 286 (1986). The court “should view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.” Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkar, 7 F.3d
1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993).
crux of Defendant Benefitfocus' argument for dismissal is
that Plaintiff has alleged that it violated N.C. Gen.Stat.
§ 75-1.1 by violating or contributing to a violation of
N.C. Gen.Stat. § 58-58-140. (Document No. 8-1, p.1).
Benefitfocus argues that Plaintiff has not alleged, and that
it is not, an insurance company subject to Chapter 58.
Id. Benefitfocus concludes that because it “is
not capable of violating Chapter 58, ” it “cannot
have violated § 75-1.1 by violating Chapter 58, ”
and therefore, Plaintiff's first claim must be dismissed
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Id. See also (Document No. 8-1, p.4)
(citing Jaco ...