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Mitchell v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Ins. Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 18, 2017

MICHAEL MITCHELL,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

          MEMORANDUM

          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend the Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 14.) For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Michael Mitchell and Molly Conlon purchased a Homeowners Insurance Policy from Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Insurance Company. This action arises as a result of Defendant's partial denial of Plaintiffs' claims under the Policy.

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs purchased a Homeowners Insurance Policy from Defendant on or before January 2016. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 6.) On January 23, 2016, Plaintiffs' property suffered damage due to a snow storm. (Id. ¶ 6.) The interior, exterior, and roof of the main residence were damaged as a result of the ice and snow. (Id.) The roof of the detached garage was also severely damaged. (Id.) Plaintiffs' policy with Defendant covered storm, ice, and snow damage. (Id. ¶ 7.)

         Defendant determined that the interior damage to the main residence totaled $7, 717.83. (Id. ¶ 8.) After subtracting the deductible and depreciation, Defendant provided Plaintiffs with a payment in the amount of $5, 801.77. (Id.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendant failed to provide adequate payment for the interior damage. (Id. ¶ 9.) The exterior damage totaled $54, 180.76. (Id.) Defendant failed to provide any payment for the exterior damage, which included the roof of the main residence, the exterior fascia and stucco, and the roof of the detached garage. (Id.)

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant did not contact Plaintiff to inspect the damaged property in a timely manner. (Pls.' Mot., Ex. A, “SAC” ¶ 21.) Plaintiffs allege that they provided the following documents to Defendant: “photographs and statements regarding the damage to the detached garage;” an expert report detailing the condition of the garage prior to the storm; and an expert report, which determined that the snow storm caused the damage to the exterior property. (Id. ¶ 23.) Plaintiffs allege that Defendant did not properly investigate the claim, and that Defendant did not provide a good faith reason for denying the claim. (Id. ¶ 15.) Rather, Defendant “simply refused coverage based upon its inability to inspect dangerous and inconvenient debris that was removed from the property, ” despite the “overwhelming evidence” that Plaintiffs provided to Defendant. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 24.)

         B. Procedural History

         On January 5, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 1.) On February 16, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal. (Id.) On February 23, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Count II of the Complaint. (ECF No. 4.) On March 8, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, rendering Defendant's Motion moot. (ECF No. 6.) Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint asserts two claims against Defendant: breach of contract (Count I); and violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 201-2(4)(xxi) (“UTPCPL”) (Count II).

         On April 26, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Amend the Amended Complaint. (Pls.' Mot., ECF No. 14.) Plaintiffs seek to add a bad faith claim to the Amended Complaint. On May 5, 2017, Defendant filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion. (Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 15.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) requires that leave to amend the pleadings be granted freely “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see also Long v. Wilson, 393 F.3d 390, 400 (3d Cir. 2004). However, “[t]he policy favoring liberal amendment of pleadings is not . . . unbounded.” Dole v. Arco Chem. Co., 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir. 1990). A district court may deny leave to amend a complaint where “it is apparent from the record that (1) the moving party has demonstrated undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motives, (2) the amendment would be futile, or (3) the amendment would prejudice the other party.” Lake v. Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 373 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)).

         III. ...


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