April 2009 Bad Faith Cases: No Bad Faith Where Insurer Relied on Engineering Reports As To Cause Of Collapse and Policy Language (Philadelphia Federal)
In Teti v. Phoenix Insurance Company, there was a wall collapse at the insured’s home. The carrier hired an engineer who identified the collapse as the result of long term deterioration and rainfall, two uncovered causes. Plaintiff had a report done that concluded another cause, which would have been covered. Further, the carrier interpreted certain policy language to mean that a retaining wall collapse was never covered; an interpretation disputed by the insured. The court stated that “outside of its factual dispute surrounding the cause of the collapse and the meaning of Section 8 of the Policy, plaintiff has not provided any evidence of an unfounded or frivolous refusal to pay on the part of Phoenix. In addition, as to Phoenix’s refusal to defend, plaintiff has offered no evidence of bad motive and contends only that she disagrees with Phoenix’s position as to the cause of the occurrence and the nature of the City’s action.” Moreover, even if the insured were correct, she “failed to support her claim of bad faith with any evidence to suggest that the insurer acted with self interest or ill will as outlined in Pennsylvania law. Phoenix’s positions were based upon an engineering report and the wording of the Policy itself; it cannot be said that the decisions were unfounded.” The court granted summary judgment on the bad faith claim.
Date of Decision: February 3, 2009
Teti v. Phoenix Ins. Co.
, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA, CIVIL ACTION No. 08-cv-0983, , 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8027 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 3, 2009) (Joyner, J.)