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The insureds’ motor home was damaged when a tree fell and its roof and water damage ensued.  The carrier denied coverage and the insureds sued for negligence, breach of contract, bad faith and violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL).  The insurer successfully moved to dismiss the negligence, bad faith and UTPCPL claims; however, only the UTPCPL claim was dismissed with prejudice.

The negligence claim was dismissed under the gist of the action doctrine.

As to the bad faith claim, the plaintiffs merely alleged the carrier “failed to review its file appropriately, wrongfully denied payment that it knew was owed, required Plaintiffs to incur costs and legal fees in obtaining what is rightfully theirs, and failed to use due care in handling the claim.” These allegations were insufficient to make out a bad faith claim, as the insureds failed to “describe the who, what, where, when and how the alleged bad faith conduct occurred.” Western District Magistrate Judge Dodge relied upon Eastern District Judge Baylson’s 2019 Kelley decision, summarized here, Eastern District Judge Darnell Jones’ 2020 Blasetti decision, summarized here, and Western District Judge McVerry’s 2011 PGT Trucking decision, summarized here.

Still, leave to amend the bad faith claim was liberally given by the Court.

Finally, the UTPCPL claim was dismissed with prejudice.  The UTPCPL can only apply to claims based on conduct arising before the insurance contact was in place.  The Bad Faith Statute is aimed at claim handling, after a claim is made.  In this case, the only conduct at issue involved claim handling, thus the UTPCPL could not apply as a matter of law.  Magistrate Judge Dodge chiefly relied upon Western District Judge Ranjan’s 2020 Dunleavy decision, summarized here.

Date of Decision: March 3, 2022

Moravia Motorcycle, Inc. v. Allstate Insurance Company, U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania No. CV 21-1274, 2022 WL 623374 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 3, 2022) (Dodge, M.J.)

Our thanks to Attorney Daniel Cummins of the excellent Tort Talk Blog for bringing this case to our attention.