Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bench Trial Bad Faith Verdict in Favor of Lackawanna County Plaintiff

In his recent August 15, 2013 decision in the case of Davis. v. Fidelity National Insurance Company, No. 2009-CV-6154 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Aug. 15, 2013 Minora, J.), Judge Carmen D. Minora issued a Memorandum and Order at the end of which he entered a verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs under the Bad Faith Act, 42 Pa. C.S. §8371, in the total amount of $2,062,746.59.  

According to the detailed Opinion, the case came before the court as an insurance bad faith and breach of contract action arising out of a title insurance policy.   The parties proceeded to a bench trial after both parties waived their right to a jury trial.  

Judge Carmen D. Minora
Lackawanna County
Concisely, after a thorough review of the facts and the current status of bad faith law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Judge Minora concluded, in pertinent part, that the evidence before the court showed that the carrier did not have a reasonable basis for taking almost five (5) years to resolve the Plaintiffs’ claim.    The court noted that the carrier took 20 months to complete its investigation and notify the Plaintiff that the claim was covered under their policy.  However, the Defendant was found to have been delayed payment for almost three (3) years thereafter, and, according to the court, only finally tendered an inadequate offer once suit was filed.

The court found that the “extreme delay” found in the record before the court in this case constituted bad faith under 42 Pa. C.S. §8371.   The court found that that inaction of the Defendant carrier to be outrageous and recklessly indifferent to the rights of its insured.  

As such, the court entered a verdict comprising of compensatory and punitive damages that in the above amount.  

Plaintiff’s counsel was Carl J. Guagliardo of the Kingston, Pennsylvania law firm of Selingo & Guagliardo.  
Anyone wishing to review this Opinion may click this LINK.

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