Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UIM Bad Faith Claim Dismissed Where No Allegations as to Amount of Liability Coverage

In the case of Ceresko v. Keystone Container Service, Inc., No. 18-CV-3361 (C.P. Lacka. Co. April 9, 2019 Nealon, J.), the court sustained a UIM carrier’s demurrer relative to a Plaintiff’s bad faith claim in a Post-Koken matter but, given that the statute of limitations had not yet expired, granted the Plaintiff leave to amend.  

According to the Opinion, six (6) days after a Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident with a waste container carrier that was transporting a large dumpster, the Plaintiff notified their UIM carrier of their demand for the payment of UIM benefits.  

Nine (9) days later, and without knowing that liability coverage limits covering the alleged tortfeasor Defendant and/or his corporate employer, the Plaintiff commenced this lawsuit against the driver of the waste container carrier, his employer, and the Plaintiff's own UIM carrier.  

On the UIM claim, the Plaintiff asserted a breach of the carrier’s contract to pay UIM benefits and also demanded punitive damages and other damages relative to a bad faith claim with respect to the denial of the claim for UIM benefits.  

The UIM carrier filed Preliminary Objections asserting a demurrer to the legal insufficiency of the Plaintiff’s bad faith claim in light of the facts alleged.  In the alternative, the UIM carrier requested a severance and stay of the bad faith claim.  

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County
In granting the demurrer, the court noted that, at the time the Plaintiff filed this claim, which included a bad faith action, neither the Plaintiff nor the UIM carrier knew what the liability coverage limits were for the alleged tortfeasor Defendants.  

The court noted that the facts alleged in the Plaintiff’s Complaint were insufficient to sustain a bad faith claim.   However, as stated, the Plaintiff was granted leave to amend should facts be uncovered to support such a claim.  

Anyone wishing to review this case may click this LINK.

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