United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
RODNEY C. PRATT, Plaintiff,
GAIL L. GIESE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Reeves United States District Judge
matter is pending for consideration of Defendant Commonwealth
of Kentucky's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative,
for summary judgment. [Record No. 25] Plaintiff Rodney C.
Pratt (“Pratt”) filed this case, asserting
diversity jurisdiction. His claims against Defendants Gail L.
Giese (“Giese”) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky
(“the Commonwealth”) arise out of a motor vehicle
accident that occurred when Giese's vehicle collided with
Pratt's. [Record No. 19, ¶ 1] Pratt's claim
against the Commonwealth is based on underinsured motorist
(“UIM”) coverage to which Pratt argues he is
entitled. The Commonwealth argues that the claim asserted
against it must be dismissed because it was filed outside the
two-year contractual limitation period that is provided in
the UIM endorsement. The Commonwealth's motion will be
denied for the reasons that follow.
was employed as a Kentucky state trooper and was on duty at
the time of the accident. [Id. at ¶ 8] On
September 21, 2014, Giese collided with Pratt while he was
occupying a vehicle owned by the Kentucky State Police.
[Id. at ¶¶ 9, 20] The vehicle was insured
under a policy that included an underinsured motorists
coverage endorsement. [Record No. 25, Ex. 3] The Commonwealth
was the named insured under the policy, but the UIM
endorsement provided that “[a]nyone else
‘occupying' a covered ‘auto'” was
also insured under the policy. [Id.] The UIM
endorsement included the following limitations provision:
“Any legal action against us under this Coverage Form
must be brought within two years after the date of the
‘accident'.” [Id. at 3]
filed his first Complaint against Giese on September 16,
2016, within two years of the date of the accident (i.e.,
September 21, 2014). [Record No. 1] However, he did not name
the Commonwealth as a defendant until he filed an Amended
Complaint in January 2017, over two years after the date of
the accident. [Record No. 19] Pratt thus failed to file his
claim against the Commonwealth in compliance with the UIM
limitations provision. Accordingly, if the limitations
provision is enforceable, Pratt's claim is time-barred
and must be dismissed. However, because the limitations
provision is not enforceable under Kentucky law, the
Commonwealth's motion will be denied.
if a party presents matters outside the pleadings on a motion
to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the motion must be treated as
one for summary judgment under Rule 56. Fed R. Civ. P. 12(d).
However, “documents attached to a motion to dismiss
that are referred to in the complaint and central to the
claim are deemed to form part of the pleadings.”
Miller v. Mylan, Inc., 741 F.3d 674, 678-79 (6th
Cir. 2014); see also Greenberg v. Life Ins. Co. of
Virginia, 177 F.3d 507, 514 (6th Cir. 1999). Thus,
where a document attached to the motion to dismiss is central
to the claim, the motion will not be converted into a motion
for summary judgment. Greenberg, 177 F.3d at 514.
it is not necessary to convert the Commonwealth's motion
to dismiss into a motion for a summary judgment because the
insurance policy that the Commonwealth attached to its motion
is so central to Pratt's claims that it forms a part of
the pleadings. Pratt directly references the insurance policy
in his Amended Complaint and, referring to the policy, states
“a copy of which is attached at Exhibit A.”
[Record No. 19, ¶ 21, 22, 41, 42] Pratt failed to attach
the policy, but this statement demonstrates that he intended
to do so and therefore deems the policy central to his claim.
Further, the policy is central to Pratt's claim against
the Commonwealth because the claim arises from and depends on
the policy's coverage. See Hobbs v. American Sec.
Ins. Co., No. 3: 08-CV-00471-TBR, 2009 WL 366325, at *2
(W.D. Ky. February 13, 2009). Accordingly, the policy is a
part of the pleadings and the Court will consider the
Commonwealth's motion as a motion to dismiss.
Commonwealth's limitations defense will be evaluated
under Rule 12(b)(6) based on the Complaint's allegations
and the attached insurance policy. A claim may be dismissed
on limitations grounds under Rule 12(b)(6) “when it is
apparent from the face of the complaint that the limit for
bringing the claim has passed.” Hoover v. Langston
Equip. Assoc., Inc., 958 F.2d 742, 744 (6th Cir. 1992).
In this case, the Complaint affirmatively establishes the
date on which the accident occurred and the date that Pratt
filed his claim against the Commonwealth, and the policy that
is deemed part of the pleadings establishes the contractual
limitations period. See Korn v. Paul Revere Life Ins.
Co., 238 Fed.Appx. 109, 111-12 (6th Cir. 2007)
(evaluating a statute of limitations defense under Rule
12(b)(6) based on the complaint's allegations and the
limitations provision contained in the insurance policy,
which the defendant had attached to its motion and was
considered part of the pleadings). The Court is thus able to
evaluate the Commonwealth's statute of limitations
defense at the motion to dismiss stage.
state's substantive law regarding contract interpretation
applies. Hisrich v. Volvo Cars of N. Am., Inc., 226
F.3d 445, 449 (6th Cir. 2000) (superseded by statute on other
grounds) (citing Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S.
64, 78 (1938)). Similarly, the state's statute of
limitations applies. Blaha v. A.H. Robins and Co.,
708 F.2d 238, 239 (6th Cir. 1983) (citation omitted). Federal
courts sitting in diversity are required to “apply
state law in accordance with the controlling decisions of the
state supreme court.” Allstate Ins. Co. v. Thrifty
Rent-A-Car Sys. Inc., 249 F.3d 450, 454 (6th Cir. 2001).
If the state's highest court has not addressed the issue
presented by a particular case, the federal court “must
predict how that court would rule, by looking to all
available data.” Whitlock v. FSL Management,
LLC, 843 F.3d 1084, 1089 (6th Cir. 2016) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
Kentucky, the statute of limitations for a written contract,
including an insurance policy, is fifteen years. KRS
413.090(2); Gordon v. Kentucky Farm Bureau Ins. Co.,
914 S.W.2d 331 (Ky. 1995). Insurance companies are not
“inhibited from contracting with their insured for a
shorter period of time to file a contractual claim . . .
.” State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Riggs,
484 S.W.3d 724, 727 (Ky. 2016). However, a contractual
limitations period will not be enforceable unless it is
reasonable. Id. If the contractual limitations
period is unenforceable, the fifteen-year statute of
limitations will apply. Gordon, 941 S.W.2d at
issue in this case is whether the insurance policy's
limitation period (which required the insured to file a claim
within two years of the date of the accident) was reasonable.
The statute of limitations for a plaintiff's claim
against the alleged tortfeasor is provided under the Kentucky
Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (“MVRA”) and
requires the tort action to “be commenced not later
than two (2) years after the injury or death, or the last
basic or added reparation payment made by any reparation
obligor, whichever later occurs.” KRS 304-39.230(6).
The policy's limitation is more restrictive than the
MVRA's in that it does not allow for the two-year
limitations period to be extended by the payment of basic
reparation benefits (“BRB”). Pratt argues that
the policy's limitation period is shorter than the
MVRA's because it does not account for BRB
payments and that it is thus unreasonable and
unenforceable. The Commonwealth responds that two years is
reasonable because it allows insureds sufficient time to file
Supreme Court of Kentucky has not determined whether a
two-year limitation provision that does not account for BRB
payments is reasonable. However, in Riggs, the
Supreme Court of Kentucky held that a limitations provision
that exactly mirrored the MVRA's limitations provision,
including the extension for BRB payments, was reasonable.
Riggs, 484 S.W.3d at 727. The court reasoned that
“[t]wo years (or more if BRBs are paid) is enough time
for the insured to discover the extent of automobile
liability insurance coverage the tortfeasor has and whether
that coverage will be sufficient for the suffered