Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Case v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Association Company case brief (294 F.2d 676)

Case v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Association Company294 F.2d 676 (1961)

-Case (P) was an agent for 3 insurance companies including State Farm (D). 

-P's employment contract gave each party the right to terminate the agreement without cause.
-P was considered an independent contractor and he was not required to devote all of his working time to any one of the companies.

-P ran for County Supervisor and State Farm and the other companies told him that if he did not quit the race they would terminate the contracts.
-P refused to quit the race and D canceled contract.
-P sued, alleging that the cancellation was wrongful.


-Court granted D’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action.
-P appealed, alleging that there were sufficient facts in the complaint to state a cause of action.

Issue: May a court create a claim if there is no claim stated in a party’s pleading?
Holding: No. A complaint must be dismissed if it fails to set forth facts upon which a court can grant relief.  Affirmed.


-In this particular case the court found that the complaint did not state a cause of action.
-Court held that D did nothing more than to exercise a right it had under the contract; the right of cancellation with or without cause.
-If P alleged that his business was wrongfully interfered with, he could have stated that as a cause of action.
-There is no duty for a trial court or the appellate court to create a claim which P has not spelled out in his pleading.

Notes: For some types of issues, courts are allowed to address issues sua sponte; however, this was not the case for this type of action under the rules of the court.

CIVIL PROCEDURERule 8(a) [General Rules of Pleading]
Claim for Relief. A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:
1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court’s jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no jurisdictional support;
2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing for the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternatives or different types of relief.

Rule 12(b) [Defenses and Objections: When and How Presented; Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; Consolidating Motions; Waiving Defenses; Pretrial Hearing.]
How to Present Defenses. Every defense to a claim for relief in any pleading must be asserted in the responsive pleading if one is required. But a party may assert the following defenses by motion:
1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction;
2) lack of personal jurisdiction;
3) improper venue;
4) insufficient process;
5) insufficient service of process;
6) failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted*; and
7) failure to join a party under Rule 19.

-A motion asserting any of these defenses must be made before pleading if a responsive pleading is allowed. If a pleading sets out a claim for relief that does not require a responsive pleading, and opposing party may assert at trial any defense to that claim. No defense or objection is waived by joining it with one or more defenses or objections in a responsive pleading or motion.

Motion to dismiss: Only look at the claim, take the allegations as true.

Link to Case:  Case v. State Farm (full case)

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