Friday, June 11, 2010

Recent Post-Koken Case Out of Delaware County In Favor of Severance of Claims

A recent decision to sever claims in a post-Koken automobile accident lawsuit was handed down in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas by Judge George A. Pagano in the case of Bryant v. Graham and Allstate, No. 09-11736 (Del. Co. May 26, 2010 Pagano, J.).

This case was slightly different from the ordinary post-Koken case of a third party claim against the defendant driver combined with a UIM claim.

In Bryant, the plaintiff sued the third party tortfeasor for personal injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident. Given that the tortfeasor was allegedly uninsured, the plaintiff also included a uninsured [UM] motorist benefits claim in the lawsuit. Also alleged was a breach of contract and Section 8371 bad faith claim against the UM carrier pertaining to that carrier's handling of the UM claim.

Allstate filed a Motion to Sever and Stay the breach of contract and bad faith claims from the separate UM claim and the negligence claim against the tortfeasor. Judge Pagano granted the Motion in an Order without Opinion on May 26, 2010. In addition to severing the claims as requested, the court also ruled that breach of contract and bad faith claims would be stayed until the third party liability and UM claims were resolved.

Note that, to date, no motion to sever the UM claim from the third negligence claim against the tortfeasor has been filed in this case.

The information is that the plaintiff has filed a Motion for Reconsideration in the Bryant case and that motion remains in the briefing phase.

I thank Attorney Marshall Walthew of the Philadelphia office of the law firm of Pepper Hamilton for bringing this decision to my attention.

Anyone desiring a copy of the Order from the Bryant case may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

I remind you that a synopsis of all of the post-Koken cases I have been able to uncover, or have been made aware of, can be viewed by clicking on the date below the "Post-Koken Scorecard" down on the right-hand column of this blog.

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