In his recent Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas Opinion in the Post-Koken case of Barrett v. Pennsylvania Nat'l Mut. Cas. Ins. Co., No. S-1861-2012 (C.P. Schuylkill Co. March 18, 2013 Domalakes, J.), Judge John E. Domalakes granted an insurance carrier defendant's motion to sever a bad faith claim from a UIM claim but refused to stay the bad faith discovery.
The court based its severance decision on Pa.R.C.P. 213(b), which grants the trial courts discretion to sever cases where severance is deemed appropriate. Here, the court thought that severance would serve the interest of fairness and avoid prejudice to the defendant carrier, particularly where punitive damages were being sought in the bad faith action and such damages were not at issue in the underlying UIM action.
The court refused to stay bad faith discovery efforts as there were protections in place in the event any issues arose in that regard. The court also felt that, to stay bad faith discovery, would only serve to delay the resolution of the bad faith claim.
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I send thanks to Attorney Pete Speaker of the Harrisburg office of the Thomas, Thomas & Hafer law firm for bringing this case to my attention.