NO STANDING WHERE INSURER DID NOT ISSUE POLICIES; VALUATION DISPUTE IS NOT BAD FAITH (Western District)
There were serious issues in this case as to whether the assignee of over 100 claims named the proper defendant/carrier, and whether the assignors even had insurance policies with the defendant carrier, with the exception of one assignment. The court found that even if the plaintiff/assignee could bring claims, despite dispositive standing issues, no bad faith conduct was established on the record before the court on this summary judgment motion. Thus, the bad faith claims were rejected.
The court found there was at most a dispute over how much the insurer should pay toward certain losses. Western District Judge Haines states:
Plaintiff’s disagreements with Defendant’s estimates and testimony indicating additional estimates were required and Defendant paid the market labor rate does not show Defendant was acting in bad faith. See Clarke v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., … citing Smith v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., … (“Courts have consistently held that a dispute or discrepancy in the valuation of a claim between the insurer and the insured is not alone indicative of bad faith, nor is it sufficient by itself to state a bad faith claim.”); West v. State Farm Ins. Co., … (“A ‘low-ball’ offer alone does not suffice to support a claim for bad faith. ‘[B]ad faith is not present merely because an insurer makes a low but reasonable estimate of an insured’s damages.’ ”); Pfister v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., … (discrepancy in parties’ valuation of claim “alone is not evidence of bad faith; Pennsylvania law generally does not treat as bad faith an insurer’s low but reasonable estimate of an insured’s losses”); Williams v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., 83 F. Supp. 2d 567, 576 (E.D. Pa. 2000) (“negotiating by offering a figure at the low end of the settlement range does not necessarily constitute bad faith, particularly when the valuation of the injuries and damages of a claim is difficult”). Plaintiff has failed to produce clear and convincing evidence that Defendant acted in bad faith in order to survive summary judgment, and Defendant is entitled to judgment on this claim.