Sunday, July 5, 2009

Status of Potential Bill Allowing for Jury Trials in Pennsylvania State Court Insurance Bad Faith Cases

According to an announcement by the Pennsylvania Defense Institute, Senate Bill 746, which contained a provision to allow for jury trials in insurance bad faith cases has been tabled by the Pennsylvania Legislature for the time being.

This bill originally dealt only with the entirely separate issue of immunity for physicians reporting suspected drug abuse/sales to authorities. A provision was then added to the bill that would amend Pennsylvania’s insurance bad faith statute to allow jury trials.

It has been said that this provision is generally favored by members of the plaintiff's bar and generally opposed by members of the defense bar. Since the bad faith statute was passed in 1990, i.e. nearly 20 years ago, Pennsylvania state court bad faith actions have proceeded as non-jury trials.

The Pennsylvania Defense Institute notes that, although the bill is currently "tabled," it can be revived for consideration at any time. It is anticipated that there may be efforts to revisit the bill in the Fall when the Pennsylvania Legislature reconvenes.

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