Friday, July 10, 2015

Eastern District Federal Court Remands UIM Claim Back to State Court

As also already reported in The Legal Intelligencer in a July 9, 2015 article by Gina Passarella, in a recent July 8, 2015 detailed Order, the Eastern Federal District Court of Pennsylvania remanded a removed Post-Koken case back to Delaware County in the matter of Kennedy v. Allstate, No. 2:15-CV-02221-TON (E.D.Pa. July 8, 2015 O'Neill, J.).

The Plaintiff originally filed in Delaware County in this UIM claim and asserted UTPCPL claims and negligence claims against Allstate as a company as well as several Pennsylvania resident claims adjusters for Allstate.

Allstate removed the matter to federal court, asserting a fraudulent joinder and the lack of any colorable claims under Pennsylvania law.

There was no dispute that Allstate was an Illinois resident and that the three adjuster Defendants and the Plaintiff were Pennsylvania residents.  There was also no dispute that the amount in controversy element was satisfied.

After reviewing the applicable law on the issues raised, and after finding that the Plaintiff had stated colorable claims against the non-diverse claims adjuster defendants, the court remanded the case back to state court in Delaware County.

The court so ruled despite noting a lack of concrete Pennsylvania state law recognizing the validity of a negligence claim against a claims adjuster by an insured relative to the handling of the insured's claims (i.e., is there a duty of care owed by an adjuster to an insured?). 

The court in Kennedy believed that, since there was a "possibility" that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could someday rule that a claims adjuster owes a duty to an insured and therefore could be the subject of a negligence cause of action, the defendants in this matter had failed to meet their heavy burden under the law of attempting to show that there was no colorable claim and/or a fraudulent joinder of claims in an effort to defeat the diversity of citizenship necessary for federal court jurisdiction.

The court in Kennedy went to great lengths to clearly state that it was not recognizing such a negligence cause of action against claims representatives.  Rather, the court was more simply noting that, since Pennsylvania law in this regard was unsettled, it could not rule that the Plaintiff had failed to state a colorable claim under the motion to remand standard of review.

The court also addressed gist of the action and statute of limitations issues relative to the negligence claim in a manner that favored the Plaintiff's position.

The Plaintiff's UTPCPL claims were also found by the court to be colorable claims that equally served to support the granting of the motion to remand.


Anyone wishing to review a copy of this Kennedy v. Allstate decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.


I send thanks to the prevailing Plaintiff's Attorney Ryan Curran of the Curran Firm in Media, PA for bringing this case to my attention.

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