JULY 2008 BAD FAITH CASES
PLAINTIFF SUFFICIENTLY ALLEGED ENOUGH FACTS TO STATE A CLAIM FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT AND RELIEF UNDER THE BAD FAITH STATUTE (Western District)
In Gussie M. Walker Community Center v. Church Mutual Insurance Company, plaintiff initiated suit against Church Mutual Insurance Company stemming from a building collapse. The carrier removed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff maintained an office at the premises of a church. Plaintiff owned certain personal property located in, and being used in, the basement. Plaintiff also owned a separate building across the street from the church known as the Davis Coal Building. In approximately May 2007, the carrier issued a policy of insurance to plaintiff. On August 6, 2007 the Davis Coal Building suffered a total loss from a “collapse”. Plaintiff filed a timely claim yet it was denied by the carrier, asserting that the policy only insured the personal property located in the basement and not the real estate it owned, specifically the Davis Coal Building which collapsed.
Plaintiff alleged five causes of action including , breach of contract and bad faith. The carrier filed a motion to dismiss arguing that plaintiffs entire complaint has inherent contradictions and does not have plausible facts to support the causes of action. The insured contended that the policy insured not only its personal property in the church but also the real estate it owned specifically the Davis Coal Building. Alternatively the insurer argued that according to the Property Coverage Part Declarations Page of this particular policy coverage is provided only for “PERSONAL PROPERTY”. The Court stated that because the complaint must be viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, even though discovery may reveal that plaintiff’s claims are not justiciable, at this stage dismissal was premature. The Court found that plaintiff alleged enough facts under this standard to state a claim of relief, and thus could maintain its claims for reformation of the policy, breach of contract, and relief under the bad faith statute.
Date of Decision: February 14, 2008
Gussie M. Walker Cmty. Ctr. v. Church Mut. Ins. Co., No. 07-1646, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10955 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 14, 2008) (McVerry, J.)