Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Repeated Denials of the Same Insurance Claim Do Not Serve to Extend the Statute of Limitations in a Bad Faith Case

In the case of Feingold v. Brooks, No. 19-CV-0291, 2019 WL 415575 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 1, 2019 Tucker, J.), the court addressed the issue of the statute of limitations period in a bad faith claim.  

The court noted that the statute of limitations for a bad faith claim is two (2) years and that such a claim accrues with the initial coverage denial.  

Significantly, the court noted that repeated denials of the same claim are merely continuations of an already existing harm, and do not constitute new actionable events triggering a new statute of limitations period. 

The court noted that, only if the subsequent alleged act of bad faith is a separate, distinct, and unrelated incident as compared to the original bad faith denial can a new statute of limitations period begin to run.  

In this Feingold case, the alleged bad faith conduct occurred back in 2011.   The lawsuit in this matter was filed in 2019.  

In response to the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, this court did not accept the bald allegations by the Plaintiff that events had taken place and continued over a period of years up to the present day as a way around the statute of limitations.   The court otherwise noted that there were no facts alleged suggesting a basis for the claims falling within the limitations period.  

As such, the Complaint was dismissed without leave to amend.  

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

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


Commentary:  

Some have suggested the Pennsylvania Supreme Court case of Erie Ins. Exch. v. Bristol, 174 A.3d 578 (Pa. 2017), in which it was held that the statute of limitations in an uninsured (UM) motorist case does not begin to run until there is an alleged breach of the insurance contract, i.e., the denial of a claim or a refusal to arbitrate, supports an argument that the UM/UIM statute of limitations is extended every time a UM or UIM settlement demand is rejected or denied.  Click HERE to view the Tort Talk post on the case and to secure a Link to that decision.

The law of this Feingold decision may come in handy to counter arguments that the statute of limitations in a UM or UIM claim can be continually extended by repeated denials by the carrier to meet the Plaintiff's settlement demands.  The Feingold case arguably supports the argument that the subsequent denials of payment could be viewed as extensions of the original denial of the UM or UIM claim.

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