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Tig Insurance Co. v. Eiflow Insurance Limited

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

September 29, 2015

TIG Insurance Company
EIFlow Insurance Limited Opinion No. 2015 DNH 186


JOSEPH N. LaPLANTE, District Judge.

In this action based on breach of a reinsurance contract, the parties dispute which statute of limitations applies to the plaintiff's claims. The plaintiff, TIG Insurance Company, brought this suit after unsuccessfully seeking payment from defendant EIFlow Insurance Limited under a reinsurance contract that the parties' respective predecessors-in-interest entered into in England in 1982. This court has subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2) (diversity) because TIG is a citizen of a state, EIFlow is a citizen of a foreign state, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.

EIFlow has moved for judgment on the pleadings, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c), or in the alternative for summary judgment, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d), arguing that New Hampshire's three-year statute of limitations for breach of contact claims bars TIG's claim for breach of the reinsurance contract. See N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:4. TIG contends that England's six-year statute of limitations governs instead. See Limitation Act 1980 § 5. In the alternative, TIG argues, if the New Hampshire statute of limitation applies, its cause of action accrued within the limitations period.

After careful consideration of the parties' written filings and oral argument, the court denies EIFlow's motion. The considerations adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court to guide its choice-of-law analysis with respect to statutes of limitation favor the application of England's six-year statute in this case. And, under that statute of limitations, EIFlow concedes that TIG's claim is timely.

I. Applicable legal standard

EIFlow first contends that TIG's claim is time-barred by New Hampshire's statute of limitations, as conclusively established by the facts alleged in the complaint. A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c), which permits a party to move for such judgment after the pleadings are closed, is evaluated under essentially the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim. See, e.g., Simmons v. Galvin, 575 F.3d 24, 30 (1st Cir. 2009). For plaintiff's complaint to survive a such a motion the plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to "state a claim to relief" by pleading "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). A Rule 12(c) motion based on a statute of limitations succeeds only when "the pleader's allegations leave no doubt that an asserted claim is time-barred." Gorelik v. Costin, 605 F.3d 118, 121 (1st Cir. 2010) (internal quotations omitted).

Submitting evidence outside the confines of the complaint, EIFlow also seeks a similar outcome on summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) ("If, on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56."); see also Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Co. v. Reder, 355 F.3d 35, 38 (1st Cir. 2004). On a motion for summary judgment, the movant must show "that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is "genuine" if it could reasonably be resolved in either party's favor at trial, and "material" if it could sway the outcome under applicable law. See Estrada v. Rhode Island, 594 F.3d 56, 62 (1st Cir. 2010).

In ruling on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts set forth in the complaint and must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See, e.g., Martino v. Forward Air, Inc., 609 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2010). Similarly, when analyzing a summary judgment motion, the court "views all facts and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Estrada, 594 F.3d at 62.

II. Background

The following overview of the facts is drawn from the complaint and the documents referred to therein and, where noted, the additional evidence submitted by the parties. As required, it draws all reasonable inferences in TIG's favor.

TIG's predecessor-in-interest, United States Fire Insurance Company, issued an insurance policy covering a landfill in California operated by a subsidiary of the insured, Southdown, Inc. (the "Southdown policy"). U.S. Fire reinsured a portion of that risk - 16.2162% of 92.5%, according to TIG - through a facultative reinsurance contract with EIFLow's predecessor-ininterest, Insurance Corporation of Ireland, PLC (later known as Icarom). This reinsurance contract - entered into in London in 1982[1] - is the subject of this lawsuit.

Southdown conveyed the landfill to a subsidiary of Browning Ferris Industries, Inc. in 1987. In 2003, BFI and several formerly-related entities added U.S. Fire as a defendant in coverage litigation brought in Texas over losses related to the landfill. On February 11, 2009, TIG - having by then succeeded to U.S. Fire's interest - settled with BFI for $13.5 million. TIG paid out the settlement on February 19, 2009.

TIG allocated $11.9 million of that payout to coverage under the property section of the Southdown insurance policy and submitted a claim settlement request for $2.07 million to Icarom on May 29, 2009. Icarom requested additional information about the claim and the reinsurance policy. After providing at least some of this information, TIG followed up with a second request for an additional $26, 531.23 on March 23, 2010.[2] On October 20, 2010, Icarom informed TIG that it believed TIG had mis-allocated Icarom's share of the reinsurance and requested an amended billing.

According to the additional evidence submitted by EIFlow, after further communications (and the parties dispute how many), on September 13, 2013, TIG sent a letter to EIFlow - which had by that time succeeded to Icarom's rights and obligations with respect to the reinsurance contract - responding to outstanding inquiries and asking for payment within 14 days. EIFlow requested additional information and time to locate the relevant records and evaluate the claim - a request that TIG granted. Almost seven months later, TIG set a May 1, 2014 deadline for ...

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