Friday, February 10, 2012

Beaver County Court of Common Pleas Severs and Stays Bad Faith Claim in Post-Koken Lawsuit

The Beaver Count Court of Common Pleas recently issued a Memorandum Opinion in the case of Muller v. Erie Insurance Exchange et al., No. 11362-2011 (C.P. Beaver Co., February 1, 2012, Kunselman, J.), granting the preliminary objections of Erie Insurance Exchange and ordering the contractual and statutory bad faith counts to be severed  from the underinsured motorist breach of contract count.   The Court also issued a stay order on the bad faith action.

Judge Kunselman agreed with the defense argument that the two causes of action arose out of distinct factual and legal issues.

The Court also struck the plaintiff’s claims for attorney’s fees in the UIM breach of contract action, but elected to allow the emotional distress claims to be pursued as part of the pain and suffering claims in the contract action.

This Beaver County decision, which is consistent with prior decicisons out of that county in favor of the severance of Post-Koken claims, appears to be the first decision in that County in which the court elected to sever and stay bad faith claims from UIM breach of contract claims.

Attorneys Arthur J. Leonard and James J. Buldas of the Pittsburgh office of Robb Leonard Mulvihill, LLP were were the prevailing counsel on this issue for Erie Insurance.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Beaver County Opinion in the case of Muller v. Erie Ins. may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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