Skinner v. Metro. Life Ins. Co.

Decision Date27 May 2010
Docket NumberNo. 3:09 CV 394.,3:09 CV 394.
Citation829 F.Supp.2d 669
PartiesLinda R. SKINNER, James E. Skinner, Plaintiffs, v. METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY d/b/a MetLife, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana


Matthew D. Barrett, Matthew D. Barrett PC, Logansport, IN, for Plaintiffs.

Mark J. Crandley, Brendan W. Miller, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Indianapolis, IN, for Defendant.


JAMES T. MOODY, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Linda R. Skinner and James E. Skinner filed a complaint against defendant Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife). (DE # 1.) Plaintiff Linda R. Skinner (Linda) states that she and MetLife entered into a life insurance policy which provided that she would no longer need to pay premiums if she became totally disabled. ( Id. ¶ 4.) Linda alleges that although she submitted proof of her total disability, MetLife refused to waive her premiums. ( Id. ¶ 12.) Thus, Linda is proceeding against MetLife with claims of breach of contract, bad faith, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. ( Id. ¶¶ 15–27.) Plaintiff James E. Skinner (James) is bringing a claim of loss of consortium. ( Id. ¶¶ 18–30.)

This matter is currently before the court on MetLife's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed on October 2, 2009. (DE # 7.) The Skinners filed a response (DE # 10), and MetLife filed a reply. (DE # 12.) The Skinners filed a motion to strike MetLife's reply on the basis that it was filed after the deadline established by the Rule 7.1 of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana (DE # 13 at 1–2), and MetLife filed a response. This motion is also currently before the court.

Motion to Strike Defendant's Reply Brief

The Skinners move to strike MetLife's reply brief because it was filed on October 30, 2009, fifteen days after the plaintiffs filed their response brief on October 15, 2009. (DE # 13 at 1.) Rule 7.1 of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana states that once a motion is filed, the adverse party has fourteen days to file a response. Once the response is filed, the moving party has seven days after service of the response to file a reply. The Skinners argue that MetLife violated the filing deadline in Local Rule 7.1 by filing its reply brief fifteen days after service of the response without having requested an extension of time. (DE # 13 at 2.)

MetLife argues that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a)(2), as it stood before it was amended effective December 1, 2009, it had until October 29, 2009 to respond. (DE # 14 at 1.) For filings made before December 1, 2009, Rule 6(a)(2), which applies to local court rules, states that intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, are not counted towards time periods of less than eleven days. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a)(2) (2007) (amended 2009). MetLife first states that the Skinners filed their response brief on October 15, 2009, but it later states that the response brief was filed on October 22, 2009, and it calculates the filing deadline from that time. (DE 14 # at 1–2.) MetLife argues that the deadline to file its reply was October 29, 2009 and it miscalendared the deadline for the day later, October 30, 2009, at which time it filed its reply. ( Id. at 2.) The court finds that the response was actually filed on October 15, 2009, and seven days later, exclusive of Saturdays and Sundays, was October 26, 2009. Rule 6(d) provides for an additional three days to be added to the time period after certain kinds of service, including sending a document by electronic means as was done here. Fed R. Civ. P. 6(d); Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(E). Even with the October 15, 2009 filing date, MetLife had until October 29 to file its reply brief. Thus it filed its reply brief one day late.

Under Rule 6(b), on a party's motion the court can extend the time for filing a reply after a deadline has expired if the party “failed to act because of excusable neglect.” In its response to the Skinners' motion to strike, MetLife asks for leave to file its reply brief belatedly. (DE 14 # at 2.) In determining whether a delay was caused by excusable neglect, courts can consider the length of the delay and whether it resulted in prejudice to the other party. Bleitner v. Welborn, 15 F.3d 652, 654 (7th Cir.1994). Here the one day delay was minimal. MetLife argues that the Skinners did not suffer any prejudice from the delay ( id.) and the Skinners have not made any contrary assertions. The court agrees that no prejudice resulted to the Skinners from the short delay in filing the reply brief.

Thus, MetLife's motion for leave to file its reply brief belatedly (DE # 14) is GRANTED and the Skinners' motion to strike (DE # 13) is DENIED.

Motion to Dismiss

On October 20, 1994, MetLife issued a whole life insurance policy to Linda Skinner. (DE # 1 ¶ 2.) The policy included a section labeled “Rider Disability Waiver of Premiums Benefits” (“the rider”). ( Id.) The rider stated that if the insured, Linda Skinner, became “totally disabled for a continuous period of at least 6 months,” she would not have to pay the premiums on her policy. ( Id.) The insured was required to pay all premiums until the claim was approved and then the premiums would be refunded after approval. ( Id.)

The rider defined “total disability” as “an incapacity which: 1. Results from bodily injury or disease; and 2. Prevents the insured from doing the substantial and material acts of any work for income or profit ...” ( Id. ¶ 4.) The rider required written notice and proof that the total disability had existed continuously for six months. ( Id. ¶ 4.) The policy stated that, [a]s part of any proof we may require, at our expense, medical examinations of the insured by physicians we name.” ( Id.)

Linda's complaint alleges that in October, 2008, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) sent her a “Notice of Award” stating that she was entitled to monthly disability benefits beginning in June, 2008, when she was 63 years-old. ( Id. ¶ 6.) Nothing in the complaint indicates the nature of Linda's total disability.1 Linda alleges that in late November or early December, 2008, she called MetLife and advised them of her disability status. ( Id. ¶ 7.) On January 13, 2009, MetLife sent Linda a letter and forms related to her claim for waiver of premium benefits. ( Id. ¶ 8.) Linda alleges that she filled out all of the forms and produced documentation of her disability status. ( Id.)

On January 22, 2009, MetLife sent Linda a letter stating that she had indicated that she was totally disabled as of June, 2008, and it needed medical proof of the total disability from that time to the date of the letter. ( Id. ¶ 9.) The letter stated that “MetLife does not accept Social Security, Worker's Compensation or any outside agency alone as proof of disability.” ( Id.) The letter also asked Linda to [p]lease have the physician who has treated you during this period [June, 2008 to January 22, 2009] fully complete the enclosed medical statement.” ( Id.)

On February 20, 2009, MetLife sent Linda another letter which stated that it received a letter from her physician regarding the claim for disability benefits, but he indicated that he had not seen her since 2007. ( Id. ¶ 11.) MetLife's letter stated that it needed medical proof of total disability from June, 2008 to February, 2009. It also stated, [p]lease have a physician, who has treated you during this period, complete the enclosed form in full and return it to us in the enclosed envelope.” ( Id.) Linda makes no factual allegations as to what she did, if anything, after receiving this letter.

Linda alleges that MetLife “has refused and continues to refuse to waive insurance premiums pursuant” to the rider. ( Id. ¶ 12.) She states generally that MetLife did this “despite [her] full cooperation and satisfaction of all her obligations under the [p]olicy.” ( Id.) She claims that because of this she has been forced to pay all premiums to date and will be forced to pay in the future, even though she has a total disability. ( Id. ¶ 13.)


In considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) the court accepts all of “the complaint's well-pleaded allegations as true” and draws “all favorable inferences for the plaintiff.” Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir.2006). A court can dismiss a claim of relief under Rule 12(b)(6) for a “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” The complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). The complaint must go beyond providing “labels and conclusions,” and “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).

To do this, the complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955. To meet the plausibility standard, a plaintiff must “plead 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). When the “well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged—but it has not ‘show[n]‘that the pleader is entitled to relief’ as required by Rule 8(a)(2). Id. at 1950.

The plaintiff cannot just “give a threadbare recitation of the elements of a claim without factual support.” Bissessur v. Ind. Univ. Bd. of Trs., 581 F.3d 599, 603 (7th Cir.2009). Still, the plaintiff “must provide ‘only enough detail to give the defendant fair notice of what the...

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