Monday, August 23, 2010

Lackawanna County Trial Court Decision in Favor of Severance of UIM and Bad Faith Claims

Another post-Koken case involving a bad faith claim has been handed down - - this time in Lackawanna County. On August 18, 2010, visiting Senior Judge Howard A. Thomson, Jr. issued an Order in the case of Smith v. GEICO, No. 10-CIV-2024 (Lacka. Co. Aug, 18, 2010, Thomson, S.J.), sustaining GEICO’s Preliminary Objections to the extent that the bad faith claim contained in the Plaintiff’s Complaint would be severed from the action and the parties would proceed with the claims bifurcated. Although defense counsel also requested a stay of any bad faith discovery, that part of the Defendant’s request was not addressed in the Court Order.

This decision creates an apparent split of authority on the issue in Lackawanna County. A few years ago, in the slightly different scenario presented in the case presented in Decker v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 2008 WL 6653069, 2005-Civil-1863//2006-Civil 2119 (Lacka. Co. March 4, 2008, Minora, J.), Judge Carmen D. Minora allowed for the consolidation of a bad faith action against UIM carrier with the companion declaratory judgment action regarding coverage.

Anyone desiring a copy of Judge Thomson's Order (without Opinion) may contact me at

I send thanks to Attorney Cindie Banks, from the Law Offices of Cynthia E. Banks, GEICO staff counsel, for forwarding this Order to my attention.

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