NOVEMBER 2006 BAD FAITH CASES MVFRL PREEMPTS BAD FAITH STATUTE (Middle District)

In Cronin v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Plaintiff alleged that he was injured in a motor vehicle accident and Defendant refused to pay medical and wage loss benefits in bad faith.  Defendant argued that Pennsylvania’s Bad Faith Statute was preempted by the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (“MVFRL”), which provides that an insured seeking first party medical benefits may be entitled to benefits plus interest, as well as costs and attorneys’ fees, if the court finds that treatment was medically necessary.  The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania looked to federal case law, which has held that the MVFRL provides the exclusive first party remedy for bad faith denials by insurance companies with respect to claims arising out of automobile accidents.  Thus, the Court held that the MVFRL preempted Pennsylvania’s Bad Faith statute and dismissed Plaintiff’s claim.

Date of Decision:  October 30, 2006

Cronin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, No. 3:06-CV-1081, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82139 (M.D. Pa. October 30, 2006) (Caputo, J.)