OCTOBER 2013 BAD FAITH CASES: STATUTORY BAD FAITH CLAIM PRE-EMPTED BY ERISA; NO PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION UNDER PENNSYLVANIA’S UNFAIR INSURANCE PRACTICES ACT (Philadelphia Federal)

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In Minchella v. Sun Life Assurance Company, the decedent was insured under a group life insurance policy as a benefit of his employment.  The court found that statutory bad faith claims were pre-empted by ERISA, as were the claims under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.  The court further found that the plaintiff’s effort to bring a bad faith claim based on violations of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Insurance Practices Act (UIPA) were not permitted, as (1) that statute does not provide a private cause of action and (2) violation of that UIPA is not the basis for a claim of statutory bad faith under 42 Pa.C.S. § 8371.  Moreover, to the extent this was an effort at making such a section 8371 statutory bad faith claim, as stated above  it was pre-empted.

As set forth in other entries in this Blog, there appears to be a difference in the willingness of Pennsylvania’s lower state courts and the federal courts in looking to the UIPA as the basis for a statutory bad faith claim.

Date of Decision:  September 23, 2013

Minchella v. Sun Life Assurance Company, CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-3823, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136326 (E.D. Pa. September 23, 2013) (Rufe, J.)

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