Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eastern District Severs and Stays Bad Faith Claim in Post-Koken Matter

In her recent detailed Order in the case of Moninghoff v. Tilet and Allstate Insurance Company, No. 11-Civil-7406 (E.D. Pa. June 27, 2012 McLaughlin, J.), Federal Eastern District Court Judge Mary A. McLaughlin granted the Defendant, Allstate Insurance Company’s Motion to Stay Plaintiffs’ bad faith claims in a post-Koken litigation.

In so ruling, the Court cited to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(b) which provides that, “For convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize, the court may order a separate trial of one or more separate issues [or] claims.”

Judge McLaughlin found that it “makes sense” to separate out the UIM claims from the bad faith claims in this matter. The court noted that UIM claim require a determination of the liability and damages issues. The issue of the process that the insurer went through in its investigation as to the Plaintiffs’ claims “is not relevant” to the liability and damages issues.

The court also noted that the difference between the two types of claims against Allstate Insurance Company was also “obvious when discovery is considered.” More specifically, the discovery on the UIM claim “should” be rather limited with respect to Allstate as opposed to the wider discovery that may be permitted in a bad faith claim.

Judge McLaughlin also concluded her Order by indicating that “[i]n addition, it may be that the bad faith claim will become moot as the underlying case is litigated, or its focus may end up being Allstate’s conduct in the future.”

Based on this reasoning, the court granted Allstate’s motion to bifurcate and stay the bad faith claim in a post-Koken case.

Anyone desiring a copy of this detailed Order in the case of Moninghoff v. Tilet and Allstate Insurance Company may click this LINK.

I send thanks for the prevailing defense attorneys, Kristin H. Jones and Marshall Walthew of the Philadelphia office of Pepper Hamilton LLP for forwarding this decision to my attention.

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