Thursday, March 14, 2019

Judge A. Richard Caputo of Federal Middle District Court of Pennsylvania Addresses Proper Pleading of Bad Faith Claims in Two Separate Decisions

In the cases of Clarke v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, No. 3:18-CV-1925 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 11, 2019 Caputo, J.), and Moran v. USAA, No. 3:18-CV-2085 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 14, 2019 Caputo, J.), the court again addressed refiled Motions to Dismiss Bad Faith Claims and granted the same, thereby dismissing these cases with prejudice.  It is noted that the Complaints in these two (2) cases were previously dismissed by Judge Caputo without prejudice and the Plaintiff was granted leave to amend.   In these most recent decisions, the cases were both ended by the court’s decision in favor of dismissal.  

In the case of Clarke v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, the court confirmed that a discrepancy between the alleged damages and the carrier’s evaluation alone does not amount to bad faith.   

More specifically, the Plaintiffs alleged that, since the Plaintiff’s medical bills totaled over $39,000.00 and given that the Plaintiff may require additional injections in the future, the Defendant carrier was alleged to have engaged in bad faith in concluding that the claim fell within the $15,000.00 third party settlement.  

The court followed previous decisions in which it had been held that alleged “low-ball” offers alone cannot support a claim for bad faith.  Rather, a Plaintiff must allege factual allegations to show why the alleged “low-ball” offer was actually unreasonable and how the carrier knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that it was unreasonable.  

Finding that such claims were not made in the Clarke case, the court granted the Motion to Dismiss.  

A similar ruling was entered by Judge Caputo in the Moran v. USAA case where he again found that a discrepancy in the evaluation of the claim alone does not get around the issue of the Plaintiff pleading a bad faith claim in a conclusory fashion.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of the Clarke decisions may click this LINK.

The Moran decision can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney Brigid Q. Alford of the Camp Hill, Pennsylvania office of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman and Goggin for bringing this case to my attention.  

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