Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Court Rules That Forum Selection Clause in UIM Policy Allowed Plaintiff to File in Federal Court That Covered Area Where Plaintiff Resided

In the case of Warren v. Donegal Mut. Ins. Co., No. 1:22-CV-01309 (M.D. Pa. May 4, 2023 Wilson, J.), the court denied the UIM carrier’s Motion to Dismiss a UIM claim and granted the Plaintiff leave to effectuate proper service.

In this UIM matter, the Defendants asserted that the Complaint should be dismissed for insufficient service of process, improper venue, and failure to state a claim.

As noted, the court granted the Plaintiff leave to effectuate proper service.

In part, the UIM carrier asserted that the insurance contract’s forum selection clause rendered the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania an improper venue.

In addressing this motion, the court applied the venue rules found under F.R.C.P. 12.

In reviewing this Motion to Dismiss, the court noted that the forum selection clause in the policies at issue required that the Plaintiff to file the action in a “court of competent jurisdiction in the county and state” where the Plaintiff resided at the time of the accident.

The carriers asserted that, because the Plaintiffs resided in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania at the time of the accident, the forum selection clause only allowed the Plaintiff to bring his claim into Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas.

The court disagreed and accepted the Plaintiff’s claim that the forum selection clause should be interpreted broadly to also cover the Federal Middle District Court as a court of competent jurisdiction that covered the area of Cumberland County.

The court found that the plain language of the forum selection clause allowed the Plaintiff to file the action in the Federal District Court if so desired.   As such, the Motion to Dismiss was denied in this regard.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg, PA office of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.

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