United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Cheryl Bonygne brings this diversity action against defendant
CMFG Life Insurance Company ("CMFG") alleging
claims of breach of contract, fraud, insurance bad faith, and
equitable estoppel for its alleged failure to pay death
benefits owed to her as a beneficiary under a life insurance
policy. (Doc. 1). This matter is before the Court on
defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings with
respect to Count 4 of plaintiff s complaint. (Doc. 5).
Plaintiff did not file a response in opposition to
moves to dismiss plaintiffs Count 4 claim for equitable
estoppel because it is not a cognizable cause of action under
any potentially applicable law. (Doc. 5 at 2). Defendant
argues that although choice of law issues may exist in this
case,  the Court need not engage in a choice of
law analysis for purposes of this motion because neither the
laws of Michigan nor Ohio recognize equitable estoppel as a
viable cause of action. (Id. at 3).
apply the same analysis to motions for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c) as they apply to motions to
dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Warrior Sports,
Inc. v. Nat 7 Collegiate Athletic Ass 'n,
623 F.3d 281, 284 (6th Cir. 2010). "For purposes of a
motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded
material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party
must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if
the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to
judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget,
510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and
quotation marks omitted)). To withstand a Rule 12(c) motion
for judgment on the pleadings, "a complaint must contain
direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material
elements under some viable legal theory." Commercial
Money Ctr., Inc. v. III. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327,
336 (6th Cir. 2007).
Court finds defendant's motion to be well-taken.
"The purpose of equitable estoppel is to prevent actual
or constructive fraud and to promote the ends of justice. It
is available only in defense of a legal or equitable right or
claim made in good faith" Doe v. Archdiocese of
Cincinnati, 849 N.E.2d 268, 278-79 (Ohio 2006)
(internal quotation omitted). Thus, as defendant correctly
asserts, Ohio law views equitable estoppel as a defense
rather than a viable legal claim. First Fed. Sav. &
Loan Ass'n of Toledo v. Perry's Landing, Inc.,
463 N.E.2d 636, 647 (Ohio Ct. App. 1983) ("estoppel is
... a shield, not a sword. It does not furnish a basis for
damages claims, but a defense against the claim of the
stopped party1'); see also Ford Motor Credit Co. v.
Ryan, 939 N.E.2d 891, 921 (Ohio Ct. App. 2010)
("equitable estoppel does not constitute a cause of
action"). Likewise, under Michigan law, equitable
estoppel does not constitute a viable cause of action.
Casey v. Auto Owners Ins. Co., 729 N.W.2d 277, 285
(Mich. Ct. App. 2006) ('it is well established under
Michigan law that equitable estoppel is not a cause of action
unto itself; it is available only as a defense.").
Accordingly, because plaintiffs Count 4 equitable estoppel
claim sets forth no viable legal theory under Michigan or
Ohio law, it is RECOMMENDED that
defendant's motion to dismiss Count 4 of plaintiff s
complaint (Doc. 5) be GRANTED.
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), WITHIN 14 DAYS after
being served with a copy of the recommended disposition, a
party may serve and file specific written objections to the
proposed findings and recommendations. This period may be
extended further by the Court on timely motion for an
extension. Such objections shall specify the portions of the
Report objected to and shall be accompanied by a memorandum
of law in support of the objections. If the Report and
Recommendation is based in whole or in part upon matters
occurring on the record at an oral hearing, the objecting
party shall promptly arrange for the transcription of the
record, or such portions of it as all parties may agree upon,
or the Magistrate Judge deems sufficient, unless the assigned
District Judge otherwise directs. A party may respond to
another party's objections WITHIN 14
DAYS after being served with a copy thereof. Failure
to make objections in accordance with this procedure may
forfeit rights on appeal. See Thomas v. Am, MA U.S.
140 (1985); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947
(6th Cir. 1981).
 Defendant believes Michigan law
applies and cites several reasons in support. (Doc. 5 at ...