Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Superior Court Addresses Validity of UTPCPL Claims

In the case of Wenk v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Ins. Co., No. 2020 Pa. Super. 26(Pa. Super. Feb. 7, 2020) (Shogan, J., Lazarus, J., and Olson, J). (Op. by Shogan, J.), the court affirmed in part and vacated in part a trial court’s decisions in a bad faith and Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) claims against a contractor.

According to the Opinion, the case arose out of a Plaintiff’s lawsuit against a carrier and a contractor over repairs to the Plaintiff’s house. The Plaintiff alleged that another contractor poured gasoline into the framework of their house to destroy a bee’s nest.   The house was damaged as a result and the Plaintiff submitted a claim to his carrier.

The Plaintiff then agreed to let another contractor, who was approved by the carrier, to perform remedial work.

The Plaintiff alleged that there were issues with the remedial work. The Plaintiff sued the carrier and the contractor for breach of contract, breach of warranty, and violations of the UTPCPL.

On appeal, the appellate court agreed with the trial court that the Plaintiff’s bad faith and Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law claims against the carrier had to be dismissed.

The appellate court also found that the trial court properly exercised its discretion with respect to the damages awarded in the UTPCPL claims against the contractor. However, the appellate court found that the trial court erred in dismissing the carrier’s and the contractor’s claims for a setoff.

The court noted that a setoff should have been allowed to the extent that the Plaintiff’s settlement with the other contractor covered any damages that the Plaintiff sought in this case including compensation for damages to the home and personal property so as to prevent any duplication of recovery.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 25, 2020).

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