The opinion of the court was delivered by: THOMAS O'NEILL, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff Roscoe Franklin sued defendant, General Electric Capital
Assurance Company (GECA), asserting claims under Pennsylvania law for
breach of contract, bad faith by an insurer, and unfair or deceptive
trade practices. The parties dispute whether GECA applied the correct
formula for the calculation of benefits following the death of Franklin's
wife and the amount of the gross Principal Sum to which the contractual
benefit formula is to be applied. Presently before me are defendant's
motion for partial summary judgment and plaintiffs cross motion for
partial summary judgment. For the reasons stated below I will deny both
parties' motions without prejudice to the filing of motions for summary
judgment after completion of discovery on the amount of the contributory
Blanche Franklin, plaintiff's wife, died as the result of an accident
on December 12, 2000. She was seventy-three years old at the time of her
death. Plaintiff is an "insured person"
under a group insurance policy issued by GECA to Sentry Federal Credit
Union. On or about July 21, 2001, GECA issued a check to plaintiff for
$9,900 in response to a plaintiff's claim arising from his wife's death.
In 1991, Franklin, a member of the credit union, enrolled for the basic
$1,000 non-contributory coverage under the group insurance policy.
Plaintiff further elected voluntary coverage under the "Family Plan"
which covered his wife, who was his sole dependant. The amount of the
voluntary or contributory coverage is currently disputed by the parties.
Plaintiff alleges that he originally contracted for $50,000 of coverage
under the Family Plan and that he subsequently increased his contributory
coverage to $100,000 on August 19, 1993; to $110,000 on November 2, 1995;
and to $130,000 on February 3, 1998. Defendant maintains that Franklin
had only $30,000 of contributory coverage in December of 2000 when Mrs.
The policy consists of a series of written documents setting forth the
terms and conditions of insurance coverage and provides accidental injury
or death coverage for members of the credit union. The policy schedule
If the Insured has made application for the "Family
Plan" and paid the required premium therefor, then his
or her Spouse is automatically insured for 50% of the
contributory Principal Sum which applied to the
Insured on the date of the accident. If there are no
insured children on the date of the accident, this
percentage is increased to 60%. . . .
The benefits to be paid under the Policy for loss
sustained by an Insured Person as a result of an
accident which occurs on or after the date such person
attains 70 years of age shall be reduced to 50% of the
benefits otherwise payable. This applies to both
contributory and non-contributory.
(Pl's Br. in Opp., Ex. B, GE 000005. See also Id. at GE 000019). A 1996
policy rider alters the Family Plan provision to read in part:
If an Insured Member has applied for the "Family
Plan" and paid the premium
required for it, his or her spouse is automatically
insured for a Principal Sum that is 50% of the
Contributory Principal Sum which applied to the
Insured Member on the date of the accident. If there
are no insured children on the date of the accident,
this percentage is increased to 60%.
(Id at GE 000024) (emphasis added).
The "Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefit" section of the policy
When an Insured person's injury results in one of
the losses stated below within 1 year of the date of
the accident, We will pay the percentage of the
principal sum stated for such loss. . . . Only one
benefit, whichever is greatest, will be paid for all
losses which result from any one accident.
Loss of Life 100%
(Id. at GE 000009, GE 00020) (emphasis added). The policy does not
provide an explicit definition for the term "principal sum." The 1996
policy rider defines "insured person" as "You and each of Your Eligible
Dependents who is insured under the Policy." Id at GE 000024).
Under the policy terms, plaintiff also was entitled to a continuous
coverage bonus of five percent for each two years of continuous coverage.
(Pl.'s. Br. in Opp., Ex. B, GE 000010). In calculating the benefit
payable to plaintiff, GECA applied a continuous coverage bonus of ten
percent to what it believed was the entire amount of coverage, the amount
now in dispute.
Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a complaint in the Court of
Common Pleas for Philadelphia County. GECA timely removed the case to
this Court. Defendant then filed its answer and the parties exchanged