December 2016 Bad Faith Cases: No Basis to Grant Reconsideration on Dismissal of Insurer’s Bad Faith Claim (Middle District)

The insured’s son sustained injuries after being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. He was driving a motor vehicle covered under the insured’s policy. The insured put the insurer on notice and advised that her son was injured in the accident, and made several claims including those for UM and First Party Medical Benefits. The insurer denied coverage based on the household and/or frequent use of the vehicle exclusions, which allegedly were inapplicable under the policy to claims for UM and First Party Medical benefits. The son filed suit, asserting claims for UM Benefits, Breach of Contract, Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Bad Faith, Negligence, Vicarious Liability, and First Party Medical Benefits pursuant to 75 Pa. C.S.A. §1716. The insurer filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted, and the insured’s son moved for reconsideration.

The insured’s son claimed that the Court misapplied the legal standard applicable to a motion to dismiss because the Court used the “clear and convincing evidence” standard rather than a “plausibility” standard. However, the Court only used the “clear and convincing evidence” language as shorthand in explaining that it was not plausible from the allegations pled that the insured’s son could succeed on the bad faith claim where he would need to show by “clear and convincing evidence . . . that the insurer: (1) did not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy; and (2) knew or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis in denying the claim.” After clarifying that because of the thread-bare allegations in the complaint, the son did not meet the requisite pleading standard, the Court found no reason to reconsider its conclusion.

Date of Decision: August 3, 2016

Myerski v. First Acceptance Ins. Co., No. 16-488, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101580 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 3, 2016) (Conaboy, J.)