DECEMBER 2015 BAD FAITH CASES: (1) INSURED CANNOT PLEAD ATTORNEYS’ FEES IN BREACH OF CONTRACT CLAIM STANDING ALONE; (2) NO SEPARATE ACTION FOR BREACH OF IMPLIED COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING; AND (3) BOILERPLATE ALLEGATIONS OF STATUTORY BAD FAITH ARE GOING TO BE DISMISSED, AT BEST WITHOUT PREJUDICE, WHERE NO SUPPORTING FACTS ARE ALLEGED (Philadelphia Federal)

In Soldrich v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, the court made three relevant holdings:

  1. An insured cannot include a claim for attorneys’ fees in its breach of contract count, standing alone, on the basis that attorneys’ fees may be awarded for violation of the bad faith statute. Such a claim can only be pleaded in the bad faith statute.
  2. An insured cannot plead a distinct cause of action for the breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing separate from a breach of contract claim, and where the allegations and relief sought are identical to the statutory bad faith claim.
  3. Statutory bad faith claims will be dismissed without prejudice where the complaint alleges a boilerplate litany of offensive conduct which is conclusory in nature, and fails to plead any substantiating facts.

In this case, the ineffective recitation was: “Plaintiff alleges that Defendant has failed to properly adjust Plaintiff’s claim and has acted in bad faith by (a) failing to pay the full amount owed to him under the policies; (b) failing to timely pay the amounts owed; (c) scheming to defraud him; (d) recklessly disregarding its obligations under the policy; (e) accepting premiums from him without intending to pay monies owed for covered losses; (f) fraudulently telling him that the losses were not covered despite evidence that they were; (g) claiming that losses were due to uncovered causes despite having no evidence to support that contention; (h) claiming that losses were due to uncovered causes despite evidence to support a covered loss; (i) unilaterally denying covered losses without proper investigation; and (j) falsely misrepresenting its responsibilities under the policy. Comp. ¶ 56. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant unreasonably and unjustifiably delayed the handling of Plaintiff’s insurance claim and knew or disregarded the fact that it was doing so. Id. ¶¶ 57-59. This failure to process the Plaintiff’s claims in a reasonable matter, Plaintiff alleges, amounts to bad faith by the Defendant. Id. ¶¶ 61.”

Date of Decision:  November 25, 2015

Soldrich v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. 5:15-cv-01438, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159125 (E.D. Pa.  November 25, 2015) (Leeson, J.)