COURTS IN THE THIRD CIRCUIT DISFAVOR DISCOVERY OF SIMILAR CLAIMS EVIDENCE IN BAD FAITH CASES (Western District)

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Plaintiff served an interrogatory asking the insurer to identify all bad faith suits in which it was involved for the preceding 10 years. The insurer objected and the insured moved to compel. Judge Gibson of the Western District cited his own 2012 precedent in the Zettle case, as well as a bounty of other case law, in denying the motion to compel.

The main point in these cases is that other bad faith claims are irrelevant. As Judge Gibson states, there is not any necessary “connection between other bad faith claims against Defendant and the issue of materiality here, particularly considering the myriad of potential factual differences between other claims and the present claim, including different types of policies, unique policy language, the application of different states’ law, [and] varying circumstances surrounding the bad faith allegations….”

Thus, “the general rule [is] that courts in the Third Circuit ‘disfavor the discovery of similar claims evidence in bad faith cases.’”

Judge Gibson also found the request overbroad and unduly burdensome. There is no geographic limit, no limit to the type of insurance policy at issue, and no explanation as to why a 10-year period is necessary and why a shorter period would be inadequate.

Date of Decision: February 28, 2019

Horvath v. Globe Life & Accident Ins. Co., U. S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania Case No. 3:18-cv-84, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31688 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 28, 2019) (Gibson, J.)

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