AUGUST 2012 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT GRANTS CARRIER’S MOTION TO PRECLUDE EVIDENCE OF POLICY’S UIM LIMITS AND CLAIMS HANDLING BECAUSE INSURED’S UIM SUIT DID NOT INCLUDE BAD FAITH COUNT (Western District)

In Schwendinger-Roy v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., the court heard a carrier’s motion in limine in connection with an underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits claim. The underlying case resulted from a car accident in which the insureds’ daughter was injured. After recovering the limits of the negligent driver’s policy, the insureds sought additional recovery through the UIM provisions of its policy with the carrier.
Prior to trial, the carrier argued that it should not be identified as an insurer pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 411, which prevents the introduction of evidence relating to liability insurance. However, the court disagreed, holding that Rule 411 is not a mechanism for shielding the identity of a party to a UIM suit.
The carrier also argued that the court should preclude evidence relating to the insureds’ UIM policy limits and the negligent driver’s settlement amount. The court agreed with both of these assertions, holding that the probative value of these monetary figures was outweighed by the potential misleading nature of the evidence.
Lastly, the carrier sought to preclude evidence of testimony relating to its breach of the insureds’ policy. The court agreed, finding that because the insured had not asserted a claim for bad faith, such evidence would be prejudicial in a trial for UIM benefits.
Date of Decision: July 10, 2012
Schwendinger-Roy v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 11-445, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95005, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (W.D. Pa. July 10, 2012) (Bissoon, J.)