MARCH 2015 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT DISMISSES BOILERPLATE BAD FAITH CLAIM WITH PREJUDICE, AS NO CONCEIVABLE BASIS TO CURE BY AMENDMENT (Philadelphia Federal)
In Williams v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., the plaintiffs (an injured driver and two passengers in her car) brought an uninsured motorist claim against the injured driver’s insurer. The court found that the putative count for violating the UIM law was actually pleaded as a claim for breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, which merged into the breach of contract count. The complaint set forth sufficient facts to state a breach of contract claim.
There was, however, also a statutory bad faith claim.
The court observed that to make out such a claim, a plaintiff must prove the case by clear, direct, weighty and convincing evidence. In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that the insurer “failed to ‘objectively and fairly evaluate Plaintiffs’ claims, failed to “’implement reasonable standards in evaluating Plaintiffs’ claim,’ ‘acted unreasonably and unfairly in response to Plaintiffs’ claim,’ failed to attempt ‘in good faith to effectuate a fair, prompt and equitable settlement of Plaintiffs’ claim.” These were merely conclusory allegations, insufficient by themselves to state a statutory bad faith claim.
The plaintiffs failed to allege the “facts necessary to demonstrate what Defendant’s actions actually were, why they were unfair or unreasonable, how such actions were carried out, or when such unreasonable or dilatory delay occurred.”
The court added: “Plaintiffs do not allege facts that tend to show that Defendant did not have a reasonable basis for denying the claim or that Defendant showed reckless disregard for said lack of reasonable basis. Plaintiffs’ ‘bare-bones’ conclusory allegations do not state a plausible bad faith claim.”
Significantly, the court concluded: “The Court cannot conceive of how such allegations would benefit from amendment and dismiss [the statutory bad faith claim] with prejudice.”