United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. Sullivan United States District Judge
and Ngozi Azoroh (“Plaintiffs”) own a rental
property located at 133 Longfellow Street, N.W., Washington,
D.C. First Am. Compl. (“Am. Compl.”), ECF No. 13
¶ 1. Plaintiffs allege that their property was damaged
by a windstorm in 2011. Id. ¶ 15. The
Automobile Insurance Company of Hartford Connecticut
(“Hartford” or “Defendant”) insured
Plaintiffs’ property. Id. ¶
Hartford denied Plaintiffs’ claim in January 2012 and
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in October 2014 alleging the
denial constituted breach of contract and breach of the
implied obligation of good faith and fair dealing.
Id. at ¶¶ 19, 25-33. On February 23, 2015,
Defendant filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings,
arguing that (a) there is no coverage obligation because the
damages suffered by Plaintiffs were not caused by a peril
insured by the policy; (b) there is no coverage obligation
under the policy because the Plaintiffs failed to comply with
the two-year suit limitation provision; and (c) there was no
breach of any covenant of good faith and fair dealing because
Hartford did not breach any of the provisions, terms or
conditions of the policy. Def.’s Mem. Supp., ECF No.
15-2 at 1-8. Upon consideration of the Motion, the
response and reply thereto, and for reasons discussed below,
the Defendant’s Motion is GRANTED.
leased apartments on three floors of their property under the
“Section 8” program, which is supervised by the
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
(“HUD”) and the District of Columbia Housing
Authority (“DCHA”). Id. ¶ 12.
Pursuant to the HUD/DCHA requirements, Plaintiffs’
property was inspected by the government in June 2011 and
received a passing grade. Id. ¶ 14.
September 8, 2011, a windstorm moved through the D.C. Area.
Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiffs immediately submitted a
claim to Hartford, reporting damage to their property that
they believed was caused by the storm. Id.
Defendant’s claims’ adjuster Deanna Carroll
(“Ms. Carroll”) concluded that the
“significant water and mold damage on all three levels
of [Plaintiffs’] rental property” was the result
of “wear and tear” and “splits in the roof
membrane that occurred over a period of time.”
Id. ¶ 20. Ms. Carrol denied Plaintiffs’
claim as excluded under Section 1 of the policy, which
Windstorm or hail. This peril does not include loss to the
inside of a building or the property contained in a building
caused by rain, snow, sand or dust unless the direct force of
wind or hail damages the building, causing an opening in a
roof or wall and the rain, snow, sleet, sand or dust enters
through this opening.
Id. (citing Hartford denial letter, dated January 4,
2012) (emphasis added).
2014, Plaintiffs hired an engineer to complete an inspection
of the damaged property. Id. ¶ 16. The engineer
concluded that the damage to the roof and roof sheathing
“was most likely caused by a pointed instrument being
pushed up against the sheathing from the interior.”
Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiffs allege that “no
indication or evidence exist[s], which indicates that the
said actions of this unknown third-party person were done for
purposes of vandalism or mischief, nor can Defendant  prove
or show any such malicious intent by said unknown
third-party.” Id. ¶ 18.
Standard of Review
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
A Rule 12(c) motion is “functionally equivalent”
to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss and governed by the same
standard. Rollins v. Wachenhut Servs., Inc., 703
F.3d 122, 130 (D.C. Cir. 2012). A motion to dismiss under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) “tests the
legal sufficiency of a complaint.” Browning v.
Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). A complaint
must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to
give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and
the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While detailed
factual allegations are not necessary, plaintiff must plead
enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Id.
court is limited to considering acts alleged in the
complaint, and documents attached to or incorporated by
reference in the complaint, matters of which the court may
take judicial notice, and matters of public record.”
Maniaci v. Georgetown Univ., 510 F.Supp.2d 50, 59
(D.D.C. 2007). The Court must construe the complaint
liberally in plaintiff's favor and grant plaintiff the
benefit of all reasonable inferences deriving from the
complaint. Kowal v. MCI Commc’ns Corp., 16
F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). However, the Court must not
accept plaintiff's inferences that are “unsupported
by the facts set out in the complaint.” Id.
“Nor must the court accept legal conclusions cast in
the form of factual allegations.” Id.
“[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for
relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).