Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Federal Middle District Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Bad Faith Claim in Two Separate Matters

 Pauling v. State Farm, No. 1:13-CV-01348 (M.D.Pa. Sept. 26, 2013 Conner, C.J.)

In his recent decision in the case of Pauling v. State Farm, No. 1:13-CV-01348 (M.D.Pa. Sept. 26, 2013 Conner, C.J.), Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner denied a carrier’s Motion to Dismiss a bad faith claim under 42 Pa. C.S. §8371.  

This matter arose from an investigation of a motor vehicle accident in which the insured was allegedly the victim of a hit and run, i.e., an uninsured (UM) motorist benefits matter.  

The Motion to Dismiss filed by the carrier was denied where there were allegations that the carrier refused to visit the accident scene and declined to seek out eyewitnesses who would have corroborated the insured’s version of the events.   The Plaintiff also alleged that the carrier actively worked against the insured by allegedly pressuring eyewitnesses into providing a false statement placing blame for the accident with the insured.  

Believing that such allegations went beyond allegations of mere negligence on the part of the carrier, the court denied the carrier's motion to dismiss this bad faith claim and allowed the matter to proceed into discovery.

Anyone wishing to review this Pauling Opinion online may click this LINK. 

Schaffer v. State Farm, No. 1:13-CV-01837 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 15, 2013 Rambo, J.)

In the case of Schaffer v. State Farm, No. 1:13-CV-01837 (M.D.Pa. Oct. 15, 2013 Rambo, J.), Judge Sylvia H. Rambo denied a motion to dismiss a UIM bad faith claim under 42 Pa.C.S.A. Section 8371. 

The court found that the record before it contained potentially unacceptable delays in the carrier's acknowledgment of the insured's rights under the policy as well as with the payments of the UIM benefits.  According to the court, the plaintiff alleged that 14 months passed without the carrier completing an evaluation and making and offer.

The court allowed the case to proceed into discovery after finding that the facts alleged in the Complaint indicated questionable investigative and communication practices, particularly when considering that the matter involved no questions of liability with respect to the underlying accident.

Click this LINK to review Judge Rambo's Memorandum Opinion and HERE to review her Order in the Schaffer case.

Source:  Court Summaries by Timothy L. Clawges, Pennsylvania Bar News (November 4, 2013 and November 18, 2013).

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