United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants LoanCare, LLC and
Freedom Mortgage Corporation's Joint Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 33) and Standard
Guaranty Insurance Company's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs
Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 35). These matters are fully
briefed and ready for disposition.
April 5, 2016, Plaintiff Amie Rice filed her Third Amended
Complaint ("TAC"). (ECF No. 32). In her TAC,
Plaintiff claims to be the owner of the property located at
902 Robert Avenue, Ferguson, Missouri. (TAC, ¶6).
Defendant Standard Guaranty Insurance Company ("Standard
Guaranty") issued a force-placed policy of homeowners
insurance, Policy No. MLR626019500 ("the Policy").
(TAC, ¶12). The Policy provided commercial and
homeowner's insurance coverage for the Property. (TAC,
January 8, 2014, while the Policy in effect, the Property was
damaged due to a storm and high winds which caused the house
to be uninhabitable. (TAC, ¶12). Freedom and/or LoanCare
took $31, 924.77 of the monies paid by Standards and used
those funds to pay off the Deed of Trust. (TAC, ¶27).
Plaintiff alleges that this action by Freedom and/or LoanCare
in paying off the Deed of Trust prevented Plaintiff from
engaging any contractor to repair her home. (TAC, ¶28).
brings a lawsuit for breach of contract against Standard
Guaranty (Count I), for vexatious refusal against Defendant
Standard Guaranty (Count II), breach of contract/tortious
interference against Freedom Mortgage (Count III), and breach
of contract/tortious interference against LoanCare, LLC
("LoanCare") (Count IV).
Breach of Contract Against Standard Guaranty
state a claim for breach of contract under Missouri law,
Plaintiff "must establish the existence of a valid
contract, the rights of plaintiff and obligations of
defendant under the contract, a breach by defendant, and
damages resulting from the breach." Gillis v.
Principia Corp., No. 15-2968, 2016 WL 4205934, at *4
(8th Cir. Aug. 10, 2016) (citing Lucero v. Curators of
Univ. of Mo., 400 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013)).
contends that there was no breach of contract because the
Policy was force placed, and Plaintiff has no interest in the
Policy, as she is not a named insured or an additional
insured. Standard notes that the Certificate of Insurance
(attached to the TAC) indicates that Freedom Mortgage c/o
LoanCare is the insured under the Policy. (ECF No. 36 at 4).
Plaintiff was not an additional insured. (ECF No. 36 at 4).
Because Plaintiff was not an insured, Standard states that
Plaintiff cannot maintain an action for breach of contract,
given that there was no contract between Plaintiff and
Standard. (ECF No. 36 at 4).
response, Plaintiff asserts that she has pled a third-party
interest to the insurance contract. Plaintiff maintains that
she has received a benefit from that contract, specifically
the amount of the damages agreed to be paid by the insurance
company over and above the amount due on the Mortgage.
Plaintiff notes that the Policy insures the real property for
$218, 000, which is in excess of the value of the loan
alleged to have been secured by the Deed of Trust, and no
language in it limits the Policy amount to the financial
interest of the Mortgagee. Plaintiff contends that the Policy
insures the real property, and not just the financial
interests of the Defendants. (ECF No. 38 at 7).
Court holds that Plaintiffs claim for breach of contract
fails as a matter of law. Missouri courts have expressly
stated the requirements for a third-party beneficiary:
A third-party beneficiary is one who is not privy to a
contract or its consideration, but who may nonetheless
maintain a cause of action for breach of the contract."
Trout v. General Security Services Corp. 8 S.W.3d
126, 132 (Mo.App. 1999); see also L.A.C. v. Ward
Parkway Shopping Center Co. 75 S.W.3d 247, 260 (Mo. banc
2002). Only a third party for whose primary benefit the
parties contracted may maintain an action to enforce a
contract; a third party may not recover if that party
"is only incidentally, indirectly or collaterally
benefited by the contract." Trout 8 S.W.3d at
132. The terms of a contract must clearly and directly
express the contracting parties' intent for the third
party to benefit from the contract. L.A. C 75 S.W.3d
at 260; Trout 8 S.W.3d at 132.
Kester v. Kester,
108 S.W.3d 213, 226 (Mo.Ct.App.
2003). The Court holds Plaintiff cannot maintain a claim for
breach of contract because there is no clear and direct
language indicating that Plaintiff is a beneficiary as a
matter of law. Freedom and LoanCare obtained the policy to
protect their interests in the Property, not for the primary
benefit of Plaintiff. The Certificate of Insurance expressly
states that it benefits Freedom and LoanCare, but does not