Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Judge Munley of Federal Middle District Grants Summary Judgment in Bad Faith Claim

In his recent decision in the case of Yatsonsky v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Ins. Co., 3:15-CV-1777 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 5, 2016 Munley, J.), Judge James M. Munley granted a carrier’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a bad faith claim.

In this matter, the Plaintiff claimed that the carrier acted in bad faith by assigning an inordinate number of representatives to handle her claim.  The insured additionally asserted that the carrier refused to timely pay the full value of the Plaintiff’s loss and instead only provided a number of estimates of payments over a seven (7) month period.  

Judge Munley indicated that “it is not bad faith to conduct a thorough investigation into a questionable claim.”  The court found that the Plaintiff in this matter failed to present any evidence that the management of the claim was anything other than attempt to further investigate the water damages allegedly sustained at the Plaintiff’s home in order to determine the value of the claim.  It was additionally indicated that no expert testimony was offered by the Plaintiff pertaining to the insurer’s investigation.  

The court also rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that multiple estimates issued in the claim demonstrated bad faith on the part of the carrier.   In so ruling, the court referenced appellate law for the proposition that “subsequent estimates assign(ing) at a higher value of the claim is not ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that the insurer acted in bad faith in arriving at its initial estimate."

Anyone wishing to review this case online may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Lee Applebaum, writer of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Insurance Bad Faith Case Law Blog and member of the Philadelphia law firm of Fineman Krekstein & Harris, for bringing this case to my attention. 

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