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Meyers v. Protective Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

October 10, 2017



          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge.

         Presently before me is the Motion to Dismiss Claims of Bad Faith in the Amended Complaint (Doc. 19) filed by Defendant Protective Insurance Company (“Defendant”). Plaintiff Thomas Meyers (“Plaintiff”)[1] contends, inter alia, that Defendant failed to comply with its statutory and common law duties of good faith and fair dealing in handling his uninsured motorist claim. I previously dismissed Plaintiff's bad faith claims, but Plaintiff was permitted to amend those claims to sufficiently allege that Defendant acted in bad faith in investigating and evaluating his uninsured motorist claim. Plaintiff timely filed the Amended Complaint, and Defendant again seeks dismissal of the statutory and common law bad faith claims. Because Plaintiff now pleads plausible bad faith claims, the motion to dismiss will be denied.

         I. Background

         The facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint are as follows:

         On January 21, 2014, Plaintiff sustained serious injuries after he was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle while delivering boxes for his employer, KM Michaels, Inc. (See Doc. 18, ¶¶ 14-15). At that time, KM Michaels, Inc. had an automobile insurance policy issued by Defendant, which covered Plaintiff as an “insured” under the policy. (See id. at ¶¶ 6, 11).

         On or about April 23, 2014, Plaintiff provided Defendant with notice of his uninsured motorist claim. (See id. at ¶ 24). The same day, Plaintiff supplied Defendant with a copy of the police report and requested a copy of the property damage photos that Defendant indicated were in its file. (See id. at ¶ 25). On May 28, 2014, Plaintiff provided Defendant with treatment information and medical records. (See id. at ¶ 26). At that time, Plaintiff also gave Defendant a copy of a decision finding Plaintiff was entitled to workers' compensation. (See id. at ¶ 27). Plaintiff provided updated treatment records to Defendant on August 18, 2014. (See id. at ¶ 28).

         On May 29, 2015, Plaintiff, at the request of Defendant, underwent an independent medical examination by an orthopedic surgeon. (See id. at ¶ 29). That physician characterized Plaintiff's condition as “guarded” and attributed Plaintiff's injuries to the hit-and-run accident. (See id. at ¶¶ 30-31).

         Plaintiff, on or about January 4, 2016, notified Defendant that he had been unable to identify the driver of the vehicle that struck him. (See id. at ¶ 32). On or about February 1, 2016, Plaintiff provided Defendant with a “specific and detailed liability and damages package, including hundreds of pages of Plaintiff's medical records, which went without a response.” (Id. at ¶ 33). On March 9, 2016, Plaintiff asked Defendant to advise him of the status of the review of his claim, but Defendant failed to do so. (See id. at ¶ 34). Rather, Defendant's adjuster responded to Plaintiff that her final report would be submitted to management over the weekend and she would advise Plaintiff of Defendant's position as soon as possible. (See id. at ¶ 35). Defendant's adjuster did not advise Plaintiff of the status of the review as promised. (See id. at ¶ 36). Plaintiff again requested Defendant provide him a report on the status of his claim evaluation on March 31, 2016, but that request was ignored. (See id. at ¶¶ 37-38). On April 18, 2016, Plaintiff provided Defendant with a blanket authorization to obtain certain investigative records. (See id. at ¶ 39).

         Plaintiff wrote to Defendant on April 20, 2016 as follow up to an earlier email and multiple voice messages regarding the status of his claim. (See id. at ¶ 40). Defendant's adjuster responded that the review meeting was not yet on her calendar. (See id. at ¶ 41). Despite subsequently informing Plaintiff that she would find out when the claim would be reviewed, the adjuster failed to provide this information to Defendant. (See id. at ¶¶ 42-44).

         Plaintiff left several voice messages for Defendant's adjuster during the week of May 8, 2016 requesting an update on the status of Defendant's investigation, to which Defendant's adjuster responded on May 18, 2016 that she still did not have a calendar date for review of Plaintiff's claim. (See id. at ¶¶ 45-46). After multiple requests, Defendant finally provided Plaintiff with a copy of its investigative file on May 24, 2016. (See id. at ¶ 48). Plaintiff contacted the adjuster's supervisor the following day regarding Defendant's failure to provide a settlement offer or otherwise communicate regarding the status of its investigation. (See id. at ¶ 49).

         On May 26, 2016, Defendant made its first settlement offer in the amount of $225, 000.00. (See id. at ¶ 50). At the time the offer was made, Defendant possessed medical lien and wage loss documentation in an amount in excess of $122, 000.00. (See id.). Defendant was also aware at that time that Plaintiff's medical and wage loss liens were rapidly increasing as Plaintiff was still unable to work and was undergoing medical treatment. (See id.). The following week, Defendant increased its settlement offer and retained counsel to represent its interests in this matter. (See id. at ¶¶ 51-52). After counsel was retained, Defendant over the next month requested three (3) medical evaluations of Plaintiff, including two with orthopedic physicians. (See id. at ¶¶ 54, 58-60).

         On June 9, 2016, Plaintiff advised Defendant that he would be willing to settle his claim within the policy limits. (See id. at ¶ 53). A week later, Defendant wrote to Plaintiff setting forth falsities designed to devalue Plaintiff's claim, including that he delayed in reporting the accident, that Plaintiff had a “significant medical history”, that there was only “minor property damage”, and that there were “other relevant factors” that Defendant failed to identify. (See id. at ¶¶ 55). Plaintiff responded to Defendant the next day to rebut the inaccuracies set forth in Defendant's prior correspondence and to request a more reasonable offer in light of Plaintiff's injuries. (See id. at ¶¶ 56-57).

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania on July 25, 2016. (See Doc. 1, Ex. “A”). After removing the action to this Court, (see Doc. 1, generally), Defendant filed a motion for partial dismissal of Plaintiffs' Complaint. (See Doc. 3, generally).

         Defendant's motion to dismiss was granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiff was granted leave to amend his bad faith claims. (See Docs. 16-17, generally). In dismissing Plaintiff's bad faith claims without prejudice, I found that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege facts demonstrating bad faith regarding Defendant's failure to communicate with Plaintiff and/or failure to objectively and fairly evaluate Plaintiff's uninsured motorist claim. (See Doc. 16, 10-14). I also noted that the Complaint contained “bare-bones” conclusory allegations which were insufficient to state bad faith claims. (See id. at 14). ...

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