Monday, January 27, 2014

Judge Mariani of Federal Middle District Court Denies Request for Class Action on UIM Rejection Form Issue

Federal Middle District Judge of Pennsylvania Robert D. Mariani recently issued a Memorandum and Order in Webb v. Discovery Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co.,  No. 3:08 CV 01670, 2014 WL 105608 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 9, 2014) (mem.) in which the court denied a motion for class certification in a case involving the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL). 
The court had previously held in this matter that the insurer's underinsured motorist (UIM) rejection forms violated 1731(c) as there was additional language that the insurer incorporated into the rejection form over and above the language mandated by the statute. The plaintiff filed a motion seeking class certification and appointment of counsel on the issues presented. 

Judge Robert D. Mariani
Federal Middle District
Court of PA
Judge Mariani denied the request for a class certification as the requirements of Fed.R.C.P. 23(a)(1) regarding numerosity, commonality, and predominance were not met. 
The Court ruled that even though UIM coverage was not validly waived under the forms at issue, each individual class member's entitlement to benefits would otherwise depend on a host of other individualized considerations pertaining to the facts of each policyholder's accident and injuries. 
Accordingly, the court found that there was no no need to bind the all of the policyholders to a  determination of an action they have not manifested any desire to join.  As such, the class action certification was denied by the court and the request for an appointment of class counsel was deemed to be moot.
Anyone wishing to review Judge Mariani's decision in the case of Webb may click HERE.
I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg law firm of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.
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