Monday, September 17, 2018

Judge Caputo of Federal Middle District Addresses Proper Pleadings for a UIM Breach of Contract Claim

In the case of Swientisky v. American States Insurance Company, No. 3:18-cv-1159 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 8, 2018 Caputo, J.), the court granted in part and denied in part the UIM carrier’s Motion to Dismiss relative to a UIM claim asserted by the Plaintiff. 

According to the Opinion, this matter involved a UIM claim in which bad faith was not pled.   Rather, this was a breach of contract claim that included allegations of generic violations of the Motor Vehicle Responsibility Law in support of a claim for UIM benefits.  

The UIM carrier filed a Motion to Dismiss asserting that allegations of improper claim handling should be stricken from the Complaint because such alleged improper claim handling was not relevant to a cause of action in which bad faith has not been pled.

The court disagreed and found that improper claim handling could be relevant to a contract claim, even in the absence of bad faith, because the decision-making during the claims handling could go to the reasoning behind the denial of the contract claim.  

On another issue, the UIM carrier asserted that the court should dismiss, or order a more definite statement, with respect to the insured’s unidentified statutory violations given that the Plaintiff had failed to allege any bad faith violation or identify the provisions of the MVFRL that the carrier allegedly violated.

Judge A. Richard Caputo
Pa. M.D. Ct.
Judge Caputo dismissed this statutory count in the Complaint given that the Plaintiff had failed to plead an alleged statutory violation with any detail and given that the facts pled did not set forth such alleged wrongdoing. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this Opinion may click this LINK.  The companion Order can be viewed HERE.

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

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