FEBRUARY 2013 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT DENIES BAD FAITH CLAIM BECAUSE CLAIMAINT WAS NOT AN INSURED AND HER UNDERLYING CLAIM FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS FAILED (Third Circuit)

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In Caserta v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., the court heard an appeal from the trial court’s directed verdict in favor of the carrier. The case arose after the claimant and her boyfriend, an insured under his mother’s automobile insurance policy, were hit by an unidentified car while walking on the side of the road. Her boyfriend was killed in the accident. When the claimant put the carrier on notice of her claims, the carrier denied coverage. The claimant filed suit for breach of contract and bad faith and the carrier moved for a directed verdict, which the court granted.

The claimant now argues that her emotional distress claim is covered under her the policy because her damages stemmed from the same event that caused bodily harm to her boyfriend, an insured.

However, the court rejected such a finding because the claimant was not “closely related to the victim,” a requirement to obtain emotional distress damages in such a scenario.

Moreover, the claimant was not an insured under the policy, so she was unable to recover for any physical injuries she sustained alongside the insured.

The court therefore affirmed the denial of coverage and rejected any inference of bad faith.

Date of Decision: December 19, 2012

Caserta v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., No. 11-3952 , 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 25878, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (3d Cir. Pa. Dec. 19, 2012) (Roth, J.)

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