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Meyers v. Protective Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 20, 2018



          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

         Presently before me is the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on all Claims of Bad Faith (Doc. 35) filed by Defendant Protective Insurance Company (“Defendant”). For the reasons that follow, the motion for judgment on the pleadings will be denied.

         I. Background

         The facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint are outlined in detail in my October 10, 2017 Opinion denying Defendant's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the claims of bad faith in the Amended Complaint. (See Doc. 30, generally). Briefly, Plaintiff Thomas Meyers (“Plaintiff”)[1] alleges that he sustained serious injuries after he was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle while delivering boxes for his employer which had an automobile insurance policy issued by Defendant. (See id. at 1). Plaintiff provided Defendant with notice of his uninsured motorist claim in April 2014. (See id. at 1-2).

         Over the next fourteen (14) months, Defendant sent correspondence to Plaintiff's counsel on several occasions requesting updates on the status of his injury. (See Doc. 34, ¶ 28 and Ex. “A”). Defendant also requested authorization to obtain Plaintiff's workers' compensation file in these correspondence, but Plaintiff never provided such authorization. (See id.).

         On or about February 1, 2016, Plaintiff provided Defendant with a damages package. (See Doc. 30, 2). Thereafter, 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.). 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.). Defendant's adjuster did not advise Plaintiff of the status of the review as promised. (See id.). 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.). On April 18, 2016, Plaintiff provided Defendant with a blanket authorization to obtain certain investigative records. (See id.).

         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.). Defendant's adjuster responded that the review meeting was not yet on her calendar. (See id.). 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.).

         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 2-3). After multiple requests, Defendant finally provided Plaintiff with a copy of its investigative file on May 24, 2016. (See id. at 3). 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 3).

         On May 26, 2016, Defendant made its first settlement offer in the amount of $225, 000.00. (See id. at 3). 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.). After counsel was retained, Defendant over the next month requested three (3) medical evaluations of Plaintiff, including two with orthopedic physicians. (See id.).

         On June 9, 2016, Plaintiff advised Defendant that he would be willing to settle his claim within the policy limits. (See id.). A week later, Defendant wrote to Plaintiff stating 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.).

         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”). Defendant removed the action and moved to dismiss the Complaint, (see Doc. 3, generally), and that motion was granted in part and denied in part, but Plaintiff was given leave to amend his bad faith claim. (See Docs. 16-17, generally). The Amended Complaint was filed on February 17, 2017. (See Doc. 18, generally).

         Defendant again moved to dismiss Plaintiff's bad faith claims. (See Doc. 19, generally). The motion was denied and Plaintiff was permitted to proceed with his bad faith claims in the Amended Complaint. (See Docs. 30-31, generally).

         On November 7, 2017, Defendant filed its Answer with Separate Defenses to the Amended Complaint. (See Doc. 34, generally). Attached as an exhibit to Defendant's Answer are a series of emails between claims adjusters employed by Defendant and Plaintiff's counsel. (See id. at Ex. “A”).

         Defendant filed the instant motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) on February 14, 2018. (See Doc. 35, generally). Although Defendant's previous motion to dismiss the bad faith claims in the Amended Complaint was denied, Defendant now contends that judgment on the pleadings is warranted based on the contents of the Amended Complaint, the Answer, and the exhibits attached to those pleadings. (See Doc. 36, 9-19). More particularly, Defendant argues that correspondence between Plaintiff's counsel and Defendant's claim representatives prior to ...

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