Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Federal Middle District Court Gives Lessons On Proper Bad Faith Complaint Drafting


In the case of Rickelle v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., No. 18-CV-1279 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 6, 2018 Rambo, J.), the court reviewed the method which federal district courts utilize to determine whether a pleading is adequate under the federal rules.  Applying these rules the Court held that an insured failed to adequately plead a bad faith claim in this UIM case. However, the Plaintiff was granted leave to amend the Complaint.  

The court found that most of the allegations in the original Complaint were conclusory in nature.  

While the court recognized the difficulty in pleading facts of a carrier’s allegedly deficient internal processes, the court still ruled that an insured had to plead some facts in support of the claims presented or the Complaint could not survive under the federal court pleading rules.  

The court additionally held that pleading a few month’s delay by the carrier, in and of itself, is not sufficient to support a bad faith in the absence of any more details to fill out the allegations to show that the nature of the claims handling was allegedly unreasonable.  

In the end, the court found that the Plaintiff’s factual allegations amounted to no more than assertions that the carrier failed to communicate or issue its benefits within three (3) months of the Plaintiffs having provided medical documentation and a written request for such benefits.   The Plaintiffs failed to plead any specific facts to suggest that this delay was unreasonable or dilatory.   

Accordingly, the court granted the Motion to Dismiss but, as stated, allowed the Plaintiff leave to amend.   

Anyone wishing to review a copy of his decision may click this LINK.

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

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