BOILERPLATE BAD FAITH COMPLAINT FAILS; NO COMMON LAW BAD FAITH CLAIM RECOGNIZED (Philadelphia Federal)
This bad faith case involved a first party property damage dispute. The insured alleged he fully cooperated in the insurer’s investigation, but the insurer wrongly denied his claim. He brought a breach of contract, common law bad faith, and statutory bad faith action. The insurer moved to dismiss both bad faith claims. The court found the insured’s bare bones and conclusory allegations did not meet federal pleading standards, and dismissed the complaint.
On the statutory bad faith claim, the insured did “nothing more than set forth a threadbare recital of the elements of this cause of action, alleging [the] denial of his claim ‘was unreasonable, baseless, without foundation, made in bad faith, and made without any basis in fact whatsoever.’”
The following alleged facts failed to make out a statutory bad faith claim:
The insured had a policy with the insurer;
His car was stolen, stripped and destroyed;
He submitted a proof of loss, other documentation, and sat for a lengthy statement under oath;
He was truthful throughout the investigation and engaged in no fraudulent commissions or omissions;
He demanded an actual cash value payment; and
The insurer denied the claim.
These allegations, however, allowed for no plausible inference that (1) the insurer lacked a reasonable basis to deny benefits or (2) the insurer knew or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis.
Next, the court observed that there is no common law bad faith cause of action in Pennsylvania for refusing to pay benefits or as to claims handling. The insured did not oppose the motion to dismiss on this basis, and the common law count was dismissed as well. [Note: There is no discussion of any distinction between a tort-based common law claim, as rejected in D’Ambrosio, and the type of contractual common law bad faith claims permitted in cases like Cowden or Birth Center.]
Date of Decision: February 21, 2020
Diaz v. Progressive Advanced Ins. Co., U. S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania Case No. 5:19-cv-06052-JDW, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29708 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 21, 2020) (Wolson, J.)