Monday, August 26, 2019

Judge Caputo of Middle District Allows Uninsured Motorist Benefits Bad Faith Claim to Proceed

In the case of Fuentes v. USAA General Ind. Co., No. 19-CV-1111 (M.D. Pa. July 22, 2019 Caputo, J.), the court ruled that a Plaintiff had pled a plausible bad faith claim arising out of an uninsured motorist claim following a fatal auto accident.  

According to the Opinion, the facts of the case allegedly gave rise to a coverage issue on whether the deceased party’s father, who was the owner of the car at issue, had an applicable policy covering the accident given that there was a question of whether the decedent resided with his father at the time of the accident.

The other driver involved in the accident was uninsured. 

Judge A. Richard Caputo
M.D. Pa.
According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff alleged that the carrier had asked for additional information after a demand for uninsured motorist benefits was made under the father’s policy.  The father sent additional information but the carrier thereafter allegedly advised the father to file a Complaint in order that additional discovery could be completed.   The father responded with a lawsuit asserting uninsured motorist claims as well as breach of contract and bad faith claims.  

Before the court in this decision was the carrier’s Motion to Dismiss the bad faith claims on the grounds that the allegations in that regard only amounted to boilerplate conclusory allegations.  

Judge Caputo disagreed and found that the Plaintiff alleged sufficient factual matter to overcome the F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss.

In so ruling, Judge Caputo referenced the fact that the carrier allegedly told the father to sue the carrier in order that the carrier may gather additional information.   Judge Caputo stated in his Opinion that, “[a]lthough such conduct may ultimately not amount to bad faith, it is plausible, based on the factual assertions in the Complaint that [the carrier] acted in reckless disregard of its obligations under the policy.”  

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

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

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