SHEILAH MCLAUGHLIN, ESQ LAW OFFICE OF SHEILAH MCLAUGHLIN
WALL, ESQ MONAGHAN LEAHY LLP
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
to M.R. Civ. P. 3 and 12(b)(6), Defendant Vermont Mutual
Insurance Company has filed a Motion to Dismiss the
complaint, and Plaintiff Mary Jane Reid has filed an
opposition. Although the Defendant has requested oral
argument, the court elects to decide the motion without oral
argument because the appropriate resolution of the primary
legal issue-whether this case should be decided on the basis
of a Rule 12(b) motion-is clear. See M.R. Civ. P.
motion rests on two grounds.
first is that Plaintiff failed to file the complaint within
20 days of service as required by M.R. Civ. P. S. The
complaint in this case was filed two weeks after the 20-day
deadline. Without minimizing the importance of compliance
with the time periods prescribed by the civil rules, the
court does not believe dismissal is the appropriate sanction
for the two-week delay, and will not grant the Motion to
Dismiss on this ground.
second ground for the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
arises under M.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)-namely, that the complaint
fails to state a valid claim in light of the two-year
limitations period contained in the insurance policy on which
the Plaintiffs claim rests.
standard of review applicable to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is
whether the pleading to I which the motion is directed,
viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party,
states a | valid claim. See Town of Eddington v.
University of Maine Foundation, 2007 ME 74 §5, 926
A.2d 183, 184; Heber v. Lucerne-in-Me. Vill. Corp.,
2000 ME 137, ¶ 7, 755 A.2d 1064-, 1066.
following facts are taken from the complaint and from the
insurance policy filed with the Defendant's motion.
and her late husband were the named insureds in a property
and casualty. i policy issued by Defendant covering real and
personal property at their residence in Porter, Maine.
Plaintiffs husband died in April 2011. The insured property
was heavily vandalized in August 2011. Plaintiff submitted
claims for damage to the home and also for damage to or loss
of personal property. During 2012 and thereafter, Plaintiff
submitted multiple property inventories pursuant to requests
by the Defendant, and the Defendant rejected them all.
insurance policy contains a provision requiring an action on
the policy to be brought within two years of the date of
loss, but the Defendant continued to work with Plaintiff on
the personal property claim well after the two-year period
had expired, including at a site visit in July 2014. The
complaint asserts that "Defendant is [V]stopped from
asserting a statute of limitations defense because Plaintiff
reasonably relied on and was prejudiced [by] Defendant's
conduct." Complaint ¶ 14.
limitations defense is based, not on any statute, but on a
provision in the insurance contract requiring any action on
the policy to be filed within two years of the date of loss,
as required by the policy. Because it is central to the
Plaintiffs claim and referred to in the complaint, the
insurance policy is the kind of material outside the
pleadings that the court may consider in the context of a
Rule 12(b)(6) motion without converting the morion into a
summary judgment motion. See Moody v. State Liquor &
Lottery Comm'n, 2004 ME 20, ¶ 11, 843 A.2d 43
(in deciding motion to dismiss, court may consider documents
central to plaintiffs claim, documents referred to in the
complaint, or official public documents without converting
the motion into one for summary judgment).
even considering the policy, the complaint plainly asserts
facts that, viewed in a light favorable to the Plaintiff,
could be deemed sufficient to estop the Defendant from
invoking the two-year limitations provision for some or all
of the period between August 20 IS, when the two-year period
for actions expired, and January 10, 2017, when this action
was commenced. This means that the limitations defense
that Defendant is raising will not be resolved on a ...