Daily Archive for April 4th, 2020

THREADBARE BAD FAITH CLAIM DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Philadelphia Federal)

The court dismissed a UIM bad faith count, with leave to amend.

The complaint alleges plaintiff suffered injuries when a drunk driver ran a red light, but the drunk had only $15,000 in coverage. The plaintiff alleges he was a permissive use of the vehicle he was driving, and sought $100,000 in UIM policy limits coverage under the owner’s policy.

Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that the insurer “failed to ‘reasonably investigate’ the claim, failed to ‘objectively and reasonably evaluate’ it, and refused to ‘promptly offer payment of the reasonable and fair value’ of the claim.” The court found this pleading inadequate, stating “These threadbare, conclusory allegations do not provide a sufficient basis to state a plausible claim for relief. The Complaint must establish more than mere ‘recitals of the elements of a cause of action, legal conclusions, and conclusory statements.’” Thus, “[a]bsent additional facts regarding [the] insurance claim and the accompanying investigation, negotiations, or communications that took place, the Court cannot infer bad faith on [the insurer’s] part.”

Judge Pappert gave leave to amend the bad faith count “consistent with this Memorandum and to the extent [the insured] can allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.”

The court cited Judge Surrick’s Mattia decision on threadbare pleading, but could have likewise looked at the numerous decisions coming out of Pennsylvania’s federal courts this year alone, e.g., Judge Slomsky’s January 21, 2020 Velazquez decision, Judge Wolson’s February 21, 2020 Diaz decision, Judge Schiller’s March 4, 2020 Park decision, Judge Leeson’s March 6, 2020 Shetayh decision, Judge Pratter’s March 16, 2020 Ridpath decision, and Judge Darnell Jones’ March 19, 2020 Clapps decision. On the other end, Judge Leeson found a bad faith claim adequately pleaded in his January 24, 2020 Solano-Sanchez opinion.

Date of Decision: March 30, 2020

Shallow v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania CIVIL ACTION NO. 20-01336, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54584 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 30, 2020) (Pappert, J.)