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Waad v. Farmer Insurance Exchange

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 26, 2018

MAHER WAAD, MARKS ONE CAR RENTAL, and MARKS ONE COLLISION, Plaintiffs,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE EXCHANGE, ALLEN KELLER, and TOM BERRY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (DOC. 6) AND DENYING AT MOOT PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE (DOC. 14)

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is the third case filed by Maher Waad (Waad) and his companies Marks One Car Rental and Marks One Collision seeking damages for alleged mistreatment. In each of the three cases, plaintiffs have sued Farmers Insurance Exchange (Farmers). The allegations against Farmers in each case are generally that Farmers and its agents have had a vendetta against Waad and his companies which started in 2013 when Farmers investigated a claim of insurance fraud regarding plaintiffs (“the 2013 Farmers investigation”). According to plaintiffs, the 2013 Farmers investigation and other events led to a 2014 raid on Waad's businesses which resulted in criminal charges against him that were later dismissed.

         The current case is names Farmers and two of its employees, Allen Keller (Keller) and Tom Berry (Berry) as defendants; it asserts the following claims, phrased by plaintiffs as follows:

Count I -Federal Claim Violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment -False Arrest, False Imprisonment and Unreasonable Search and Seizure
Count II - Federal Claim Violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments Malicious Prosecution
Count III - State Claim Mcl 600.2907 - Malicious Prosecution as to All Defendants
Count IV- State Claim Civil Conspiracy as to All Defendants
Count V - State Claim Statutory Conversion as to All Defendants
Count VI - State Claim Common Law Conversion as to All Defendants

         Before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss essentially on the grounds that this case is an improper attempt to get another bite at the apple. (Doc. 6). For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         Also before the Court is plaintiffs' motion to consolidate this case with one of the prior cases. (Doc. 14). Given the dismissal of this case, this motion is MOOT.

         II. Background

         At some point in 2013, Farmers investigated Waad and his companies for possible insurance fraud and concluded that fraud had occurred. Farmers apparently sent a copy of its investigation report to Macomb County law enforcement in 2014 at their request. Subsequently law enforcement raided plaintiffs' businesses and arrested Waad. Waad was initially bound over for trial after a several day preliminary hearing. The charges were later dropped following appeals.

         The lawsuits began in 2013 when plaintiffs sued Farmers and several other insurance companies, raising claims under state and federal law which boiled down to the allegation that defendants were not fairly treating Waad and his businesses in part because defendants suggested to plaintiffs' customers that plaintiffs engaged in fraud. Waad, v. Farmers, et al, 13-14610 (the 2013 Case). Notably, among its affirmative defenses and as a counterclaim, Farmers asserted truth as a defense to the defamation and interference claims and specifically referenced and incorporated the 2013 Farmers investigation. See Doc. 238 in the 2013 Case. As noted above, during the pendency of the 2013 Case, Waad and his businesses were raided and Waad was charged criminally.

         Following stipulations and motion practice, only Farmers remained as a defendant with claims of defamation and tortious interference asserted against it. The Court, in March of 2018, granted Farmers' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. See Doc. 285 (Memorandum and Order) and 286 (Judgment) in the 2013 Case.

         Meanwhile, in 2016, while the 2013 Case was pending and after Waad's criminal case was dismissed, Waad and his companies sued Farmers and Keller along with a Warren police officer, Macomb County deputy sheriffs, a Macomb County prosecutor, and Macomb County, claiming that the defendants violated Waad's civil rights stemming from the raid. Waad v. Farmers, et al, case no. 16-13362 (the 2016 Case).[1] The complaint asserted twelve (12) counts under state and federal law against all of the defendants. The Court declined to exercise jurisdiction over the state law claims (malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, abuse of process, concert of action, civil conspiracy, statutory conversion, and common law conversion) and dismissed them without prejudice. See Doc. 27 in the 2016 Case. Thereafter, because the remaining federal claims required state action and because the Court concluded that the complaint failed to plead a plausible claim that Farmers or Keller were state actors, it dismissed Farmers and Keller from the case. See Doc. 33 in the 2016 Case.[2] Currently, the remaining defendants in the 2016 Case, with the exception of the Warren police officer, have filed dispositive motions which are set for hearing.

         In 2017, while the 2013 Case and 2016 Case were pending, Waad and his companies filed this case against State Farm and Keller as well as Berry (the 2017 Case).[3] As noted above, plaintiffs have asserted state and federal claims-the same state ...


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