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McShane Construction Co., LLC v. Gotham Insurance Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 11, 2017

McShane Construction Company, LLC Plaintiff-Appellant
Gotham Insurance Company Defendant-Appellee

          Submitted: May 10, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Omaha

          Before RILEY, BEAM, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

          SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

         McShane Construction, LLC (McShane), a general contractor, sued Gotham Insurance Company (Gotham) directly for failing to pay its insurance claim related to the alleged improper installation of a fire protection and suppression system by one of McShane's subcontractors, Mallory Fire Protection Services (Mallory)-whom McShane has sued separately in Nebraska state court. The district court[1] granted Gotham's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and McShane now appeals. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

         I. Background

         In 2012, McShane began general contract work on the construction of a 196-unit, $15 million apartment complex (Project) in Omaha, Nebraska. McShane hired Mallory as a subcontractor to design and install a fire suppression and protection system for the Project.

         McShane and Mallory executed a subcontract on June 8, 2012, that included a provision requiring Mallory to obtain insurance policies and to list McShane as an Additional Insured on the Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy. Mallory subsequently purchased and Gotham issued on September 15, 2012, Gotham Policy No. GL2012FSC00451(Policy) to fulfill this requirement. The "Additional Insured" endorsement modified the insurance provided under the "Commercial General Liability Coverage Part." It listed "Blanket where required by written contract"-which includes McShane since it contracted with Mallory-as the Additional Insured, and Gotham provided McShane with a Certificate of Liability Insurance verifying McShane as an Additional Insured.

         Under its subcontract with McShane, Mallory designed and installed a fire suppression and protection system, which McShane determined was faulty. To replace the faulty system, McShane removed previously installed drywall and installation leading to damages and losses that McShane alleges exceed $614, 291.17.

         Mallory and McShane each filed independent claims with Gotham to cover the damages and losses. Gotham eventually combined the two claims into a single claim with Mallory listed as the insured. After a comprehensive adjustment process including McShane, Gotham's primary adjuster for this claim sent a final report recommending payment of $499, 453.57 "for payment of the claim relating to the improper installation of the fire sprinkler system." Gotham subsequently stopped communicating with McShane other than through an attorney and ultimately refused to provide McShane with a formal coverage determination.

         McShane filed this lawsuit on December 23, 2014, asserting eight causes of action including (in the order asserted by McShane) violation of the Nebraska Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act (Count 1), violation of the Nebraska Unfair Insurance Claims Settlement Practices Act (Count 2), violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count 3), a claim for attorney's fees under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 44-359 (Count 4), breach of contract (Count 5), waiver and estoppel (Count 6), a claim under the rescue doctrine (Count 7), and declaratory relief (Count 8).

         On March 29, 2016, the district court granted Gotham's motion to dismiss all counts. McShane subsequently filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion to reconsider and vacate the judgment, which the district court denied on May 9, 2016. McShane now appeals.[2]

         II. Analysis

         We review de novo the district court's grant of a motion to dismiss, "accepting as true the complaint's factual allegations and granting all reasonable inferences to the non-moving party." Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 591 (8th Cir. 2009).

         To survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). The complaint must provide "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "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. Two working principles underlie the analysis: (1) the court's obligation to accept the non-movant's allegations as true "is inapplicable to legal conclusions, " such that "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice"; and (2) "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss, . . . [and] [d]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 678-79.

         We find that the district court's dismissal of all counts was proper. To explain, we will group McShane's six remaining causes of action into (A) statutory claims, (B) those ...

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