Friday, February 28, 2020

Court Rules That Plaintiff Need Not Plead Clear and Convincing Evidence In Order to Proceed with Bad Faith Claim

In the case of Solano-Sanchez v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 5:19-CV-04016 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 24, 2020 Leeson, J.), the court denied a carrier’s Motion to Dismiss a Plaintiff’s breach of contract and bad faith claims in a UIM case. 

The Plaintiff alleged that the carrier had failed to pay her UIM benefits or to provide an explanation for its failure to do so. 

In his decision, Judge Joseph Leeson rejected the carrier’s argument that the Plaintiff had to “establish” bad faith by “clear and convincing evidence” in her pleading itself. The court noted that, while presenting clear and convincing evidence might be the Plaintiff’s burden of proof at trial, it was not her burden at the pleadings stage of the litigation to present such evidence. 

 Rather, the Court found that the Plaintiff only had to plausibly plead facts to assert that the carrier allegedly unreasonably denied benefits or declined to take action on her claim and that the carrier knew or should have known that its conduct was unreasonable.

Judge Leeson also rejected the carrier’s efforts to dismiss the Plaintiff’s claim for attorney’s fees. The court noted that such damages were permitted under the bad faith statute. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of the Opinion in this case may click this LINK.  The Court's companion Order can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 11, 2020).

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