PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge has dismissed allegations that a major insurance firm acted in bad faith towards one of its policyholders, in reference to a motor vehicle accident claim the plaintiff filed.
On Dec. 5, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge J. William Ditter Jr. ruled against plaintiff Vincent Talotta and in favor of defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
Talotta filed a complaint against State Farm for recovery of uninsured motorist benefits resulting from an accident between his motorcycle and a car driven by an uninsured driver. In his complaint, Talotta presented two counts; Count I for breach of contract and Count II for bad faith conduct in State Farm’s handling of his claim.
In response, State Farm filed a motion to dismiss Talotta’s bad faith claim, according to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim for which relief could be granted.
“I find the dismissal of Count II of Plaintiff’s complaint is warranted because plaintiff fails to set forth a factual basis for his allegations of bad faith,” Ditter said.
Ditter outlined his ruling using established legal precedent in Pennsylvania.
“In assessing the elements of a bad faith insurance claim, the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the] Third Circuit has adopted the test the Pennsylvania Superior Court enunciated in Terletsky v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., which to recover under Section 8371, requires a plaintiff 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,” Ditter said.
Through a series of 19 separate assertions made in the original complaint, Talotta accused State Farm in totality of acting in bad faith with respect to denying his insurance claim, but Ditter clarified the plaintiff did not present concrete proof to support those same assertions.
“Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient or specific facts to support his claim that State Farm acted in bad faith in denying his bad faith claim. Indeed, he has not set forth any factual allegations to support his general legal claims. Consequently, Count II of plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed without prejudice,” Ditter said.
The plaintiff is represented by Patrick J. Rodden of Rodden & Rodden, in Philadelphia.
The defendant is represented by Lori C. Miller of Goldberg Miller & Rubin, also in Philadelphia.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:16-cv-05557
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org