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Stanford v. National Grange Ins. Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 3, 2014

ROGER STANFORD, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL GRANGE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

For ROGER STANFORD, Plaintiff: ELLIOTT TOLAN, LEAD ATTORNEY, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

For NATIONAL GRANGE MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant: STEVEN J. SCHILDT, LEAD ATTORNEY, BRYAN M. SHAY, RICHARD L. MCMONIGLE, POST & SCHELL, PC, PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Page 650

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Hon. Petrese B. Tucker, Chief Judge.

Plaintiff Roger Stanford (" Stanford" ) brings this action against Defendant National

Page 651

Grange Mutual Insurance Company (" NGM" ) alleging bad faith and breach of contract arising from NGM's alleged delay in paying to Stanford the proceeds of a successful prosecution of a claim for uninsured motorist benefits. Before this Court is NGM's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 70), NGM's Amended Brief in Support (Doc. 76), Stanford's Response[1] (Doc. 79), NGM's Reply (Doc. 82), and Stanford's Surreply (Doc. 83). Upon consideration of the briefs and attached exhibits, the Court grants NGM's Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

On November 3, 1997, Stanford was injured in a two-vehicle automobile accident. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. ¶ ¶ 14, 33. At the time of the accident, Stanford had a Delaware driver's license and residence, and was insured under a Delaware insurance policy issued by NGM. Id. at ¶ ¶ 18-19, 31. Stanford's policy provided Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverages. Id. at ¶ 20. These coverages had a policy limit of $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident stacked for two vehicles. Id. at ¶ 20. In order to sustain a claim under the policy, Stanford was required to submit to " examinations under oath" (EUO) and medical examinations " as often as [NGM] reasonably require[s]." Id. at ¶ 23.

Soon after the accident, Stanford submitted a claim under the policy. Id. at ¶ 34.

Page 652

On November 11, 1997, and several times afterward, NGM requested that Stanford provide it an EUO pursuant to the policy.[3] Id. at ¶ ¶ 39, 44, 59. Stanford failed to undergo an EUO despite several requests over a five-year period. Id. at ¶ 80. On December 16, 2002, Stanford finally submitted to an EUO. Id. at ¶ 94. During the EUO, Stanford refused to answer questions that were necessary and material to NGM's adjustment of Stanford's claim. Id. at ¶ 96.

NGM also asked Stanford several times to submit to a medical examination pursuant to the policy. Id. at ¶ ¶ 65, 72. Stanford did not attend any medical examination. Id. at ¶ 80. The requested EUO and medical examination were necessary to NGM's handling of Stanford's claim. Id. at ¶ 82. NGM ultimately closed Stanford's file because Stanford failed to cooperate under the terms of the policy and because Stanford's file had been inactive for six months. Id. at ¶ 83.

On or about April 6, 2001, Stanford filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County to compel arbitration under the policy. Id. at ¶ 84.[4] NGM opposed the petition on the grounds that arbitration should take place in Delaware. Id. at ¶ 87. On June 20, 2001, the court ruled that the arbitration panel should decide the proper venue, and it appointed an arbitrator from Delaware.[5] Id. at ¶ 88.

About two months after the court's order, NGM appointed an arbitrator pursuant to the policy. Id. at ¶ 90. As of June 2002, almost a year after the court's decision, Stanford had still not appointed an arbitrator. Id. at ¶ 93. Arbitration was ultimately scheduled for April 2004, but it was continued due to the failure of Stanford's former counsel, Allen Feingold, to produce Stanford's arbitration exhibits in a timely manner. Id. at ¶ 112.

From approximately mid-2004 to May 2011, NGM did not receive any correspondence from Stanford, nor did it receive any responses to requests for information. Id. at ¶ 111. In February 2005, the arbitrators closed their file due to inactivity and lack of response from Stanford's counsel. Id. at ¶ 115. In June 2006 and March 2007, NGM's counsel and NGM, respectively, closed their files on Stanford due to inactivity and lack of communication from Stanford's counsel. Id. at ¶ ¶ 117-18.

On March 3, 2006, Mr. Feingold was suspended from the practice of law for three years. Id. at ¶ 102. He was ultimately disbarred in 2008. Id. at 109. On or about May 2011, Stanford retained new counsel and renewed his demand for arbitration. Id. at ΒΆ 119. In August 2011, NGM's counsel, Norman Brooks (" Attorney Brooks" ), solicited a settlement ...


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