Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Eastern District Federal Court Dismisses UIM Bad Faith Claim Due to Insufficient Facts


In the case of Kelly v. Progressive Advanced Ins. Co., No. CV 20-5661 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 2021 Jones, II, J.), the court dismissed a UIM bad faith claim after finding that the Plaintiff had failed to plead sufficient facts. The court did grant the Plaintiff leave the amend the Complaint.

At issue were the Plaintiff’s claims of an insufficient claims investigation by the carrier and other poor claims-handling allegations.

While the court emphasized that a bad faith claim against an insurance company can include claims of a lack of investigation, unnecessary or unfounded investigation, failures to communicate with an insured, or failure to properly acknowledge or act upon a claim, as well as other poor claims handling assertions, a Plaintiff cannot merely say that a carrier acted unfairly but instead “must describe with specificity what was unfair.”

Judge Jones additionally noted that a Complaint alleging bad faith must specifically include facts to address who, what, where, when, and how the alleged bad faith conduct occurred. The court reiterated that bare bones bad faith pleadings in the federal district courts of Pennsylvania are routinely dismissed.

Turning the Complaint before it, the court in this Kelly case found that the pleadings by the Plaintiff were inadequate and were devoid of facts necessary to infer a plausible bad faith claim. The court noted that, other than the date of the accident, the Complaint did not contain any references to dates or timespans with regards to allegations that the carrier’s alleged actions were untimely.

The court additionally noted that the Plaintiff’s claims that the carrier’s lack of a thorough claims assessment was unreasonable but that the Plaintiff did not provide any indication as to how these alleged deficiencies were unreasonable.

The Complaint was also found to lack any factual content to suggest that the Defendant carrier lacked a reasonable basis for denying the UIM coverage or that the Defendant knew or recklessly disregarded the lack of any reasonable basis, which is the bad faith standard.

The court therefore granted the Motion to Dismiss filed by the carrier but allowed the Plaintiff the right to amend.

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


I send thanks to Attorney Lee Applebaum of the Philadelphia law firm of Fineman Krekstein & Harris for bringing this case to my attention. Attorney Applebaum is also the creator of the excellent Pennsylvania and New Jersey Insurance Bad Faith Case Law blog.


Source of Image:  Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels.com.

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