Thursday, June 27, 2019

10 Months of Negotiations Did Not Amount to Bad Faith In UIM Claim (Non-Precedential)

In the non-precedential case of Camiolo v. Erie Insurance Exchange, No. 478 EDA 2018 (Pa. Super. April 18, 2019 Dubow, J. Olson, J. and Stevens, P.J.E.)(Mem. Op. by Olson, J.)(Non-Precedential), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed a defense verdict in favor of a carrier in a bad faith claim and found that a ten (10) month negotiation/investigation period did not amount to bad faith.

According to the Opinion, in this UIM case, the Plaintiff had settled with the tortfeasor for $50,000.00.  

In this matter for disputed damages, the Plaintiff demanded the full $100,00.00 UIM policy limits.   The carrier instead offered $7,500.00 over and above the $50,000.00 liability credit.  

Over the next ten (10) months throughout the matter, the carrier increased the offer six (6) times and ultimately paid the $100,000.00 policy limit.

The Plaintiff sued for bad faith.  After a six (6) day bench trial, the trial court found no bad faith under the Pennsylvania statute.   This decision was affirmed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in this non-precedential Opinion.  

In affirming the trial court’s findings and upholding the defense verdict, the appellate court noted that the trial court found that the carrier had never denied the Plaintiff’s claim.   It was also noted that the investigation by the carrier was “vigorous” and involved a carrier seeking and obtaining numerous medical records, ordering independent medical examinations, attempting to reconciling conflicting or changing information, while, at the same time, continually communicating with the insured’s attorney.  

The appellate court noted that a ten (10) month negotiation period under the case presented could not be deemed to be unreasonable where it was undisputed that the Plaintiff’s treatment was on-again and off-again throughout this period, which served to support the carrier’s observation that the Plaintiff’s claim, at least from a medical standpoint, was a “fluid file” with ongoing development that complicate the evaluation process.

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

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

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