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Jacqueline Scotti v. Usaa Casualty Insurance Company

February 10, 2011

JACQUELINE SCOTTI,
PLAINTIFF :
v.
USAA CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY,
DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is the defendant's motion to strike certain paragraphs from the plaintiff's breach of contract claim and to stay the plaintiff's bad faith claim. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Jacqueline Scotti ("Scotti") was injured in a car accident on March 23, 2009 in South Abington Township, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 4 (Doc. 2)). Scotti alleges that the accident was caused by the negligence of Frank J. DeRigge ("the tortfeasor") who failed to stop for a traffic signal. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 5).Scotti alleges that the tortfeasor was insured by AAA Mid-Atlantic Insurance Company with a bodily injury liability limit of $100,000.00. (Id. ¶ 10). Scotti alleges that this limit is insufficient to compensate her for her injuries. (Id. ¶ 11). At the time of the accident, Scotti was insured by Defendant USAA Casualty Insurance Company ("USAA Casualty"), under a policy which provided underinsured motorist coverage. (Id. ¶¶ 12 - 15).

On November 11, 2009, Scotti informed USAA Casualty that she intended to pursue an underinsured motorist claim. (Id. ¶ 18). Scotti authorized the release of her medical and wage information and that information was provided to USAA Casualty. (Id. ¶¶ 22 -26). Subsequently, USAA Casualty indicated to Scotti that arbitration would not apply to her claim and the her claim remained unresolved because her treatment was ongoing. (Id. ¶¶ 27 - 28).

On June 3, 2010 Scotti filed her complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County. (Doc. 2). The complaint raises two claims. Count I claims a breach of contract. Count II claims a violation of Pennsylvania's bad faith statute, 42 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 8371. After the complaint was served, USAA Casualty filed a notice of removal on July 23, 2010. (Doc. 1). On July 30, 2010, USAA Casualty filed the instant motion to strike certain paragraphs from the plaintiff's breach of contract claim and to stay the plaintiff's bad faith claim, bringing the case to its present posture. (Doc. 6).

JURISDICTION

Plaintiff is a resident and citizen of Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 1). The complaint indicates that Defendant USAA Casualty has its principal place of business in Texas. (Id. ¶ 3). USAA Casualty is incorporated under the laws of Texas. (Notice of Removal ¶ 41 (Doc. 1)). Thus, USAA Casualty is a citizen of Texas. Because there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00, the court has removal jurisdiction over the case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 ("district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of different States[.]"); 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (a defendant can generally remove a state court civil action to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction to address the matter).

DISCUSSION

USAA Casualty's motion seeks, first, an order striking any non-contractual or bad faith allegations from Scotti's claim for breach of contract under Count I, and, second, an order staying Scotti's claim for bad faith under Count II. We will address each request in turn.

1. Strike Allegations from Breach of Contract Claim*fn1

USAA Casualty seeks an order striking paragraphs 32 - 36 from the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 (f). Under Rule 12(f), "[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(f). "Indeed, striking a pleading 'is a drastic remedy to be resorted to only when required for the purposes of justice' and should be used 'sparingly.' The Court has 'considerable discretion' in disposing of a motion to strike under Rule 12(f)." DeLa Cruz v. Piccari Press, 521 F. Supp. 2d 424, 428 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (citations omitted) (quoting North Penn Transfer, Inc. v. Victaulic Co. of Am., 859 F. Supp. 154, 158 (E.D. Pa.1994)). The basis of a court's determination on a motion to strike is limited to the pleadings. North Penn, 521 F. Supp. at 159.

The paragraphs of which USAA Casualty complains state:

32. Defendant . . . has failed objectively and fairly to evaluate the ...


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