Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Judge Amesbury of Luzerne County Addresses Post-Koken Bad Faith Discovery

In a November 6, 2012 detailed Order, Judge William H. Amesbury addressed an insurance carrier's motion to sever and stay bad faith discovery in the Post-Koken UM/Bad Faith combined claim of Schuckers v. Penn National, No. 9080 - CV - 2011 (C.P. Luz. Co. Nov. 6, 2012 Amesbury, J.)

Judge William H. Amesbury
Luzerne County
In so ruling, Judge Amesbury cited Gunn v. Automobile Ins. Cos. of Hartford, 971 A.2d 505 (Pa.Super. 2009) for the proposition that, since the trial of the UM claim would be by jury and the trial of the bad faith claim would be by a bench trial (under state law), there is a severance of the claims for trial purposes by operation of law.

In terms of discovery on the UM and Bad Faith claims, Judge Amesbury took a page out of the playbook recommended by Judge Wettick in the trial decision in Gunn, supra., and held that, since there was a bad faith claim presented, the carrier's values and its opinions and conclusions on the strengths and weaknesses of the uninsured motorist claim would not be disclosed in an unredacted form until after jury deliberations begin on that initial claim. Judge Amesbury also noted that, at that point, the Plaintiff could request a stay of the trial of bad faith claim if time was needed to review the carrier's file and develop the case further.

I send thanks to Attorney Stephen Fendler of the Kingston, PA office of Fendler & Associates, P.C. for advising me of this decision.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Order in Schuckers v. Penn National may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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