JUNE 2015 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT FOUND NO ACTION FOR BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING THAT WAS SEPARATE FROM THE BAD FAITH CLAIM ALSO ASSERTED (New Jersey Federal)

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In Senft v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, the Court granted in part and denied in part an insurer’s motion to dismiss claims brought by its insureds based on denial of coverage, after the insureds’ home suffered damages as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The insureds had previously purchased a “Prestige Home Premier Policy” on the representations of the insurer and its brokers that the policy would provide coverage in the event of a hurricane. The insureds further contended that they paid premiums as high as almost $10,000 per year from 1996 through 2012, which included a 2% hurricane deductible because of the property’s close proximity to the ocean.

After Hurricane Sandy struck, the insureds claimed that the insurer rejected their claim in its entirety without visiting or inspecting the property. After the insureds protested, the insurer sent a representative to inspect the property, who cited the subsequent storm surge as the sole cause of the devastation and denied coverage.

The insureds subsequently filed a declaratory judgment action seeking entitlement to coverage under the policy, and asserting claims for, among others, bad faith and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

The Court found that the claim for breach of the implied covenant was duplicative of the bad faith claim, and disagreed with the insureds’ argument that the claims were not duplicative because the implied covenant claim was “much more expansive and all encompassing.” Thus, the Court dismissed the claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and held that it saw no reason why the insureds “cannot recover under their bad faith claim for any conduct which they believe underlies their claim for breach of the implied covenant.”

Date of Decision: May 12, 2015

Senft v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., Civ. No. 14-0780 (WHW) (CLW), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61870 (D.N.J. May 12, 2015) (Walls, J.)

 

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