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Parisi v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 7, 2018

MELISSA C. PARISI and MICHAEL C. PARISI, III, wife and husband, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court are (1) a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Bad Faith filed by Plaintiffs Melissa and Michael Parisi (ECF No. 38), and (2) a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant State Farm (ECF No. 40). The motions have been fully briefed (see ECF Nos. 39, 41, 55, 58, 63) and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons stated below, the Court will DENY the Parisis' motion and will GRANT in PART, and DENY in PART, State Farm's motion.

         II. Jurisdiction

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the parties are completely diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because a substantial portion of the events giving rise to the claims occurred in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

         III. Background

         A. Factual History[1]

         1. Melissa Parisi Files a Claim for Underinsured Motorist Benefits

         Melissa Parisi[2] sustained injuries in a car accident on April 28, 2014.[3] At the time of the accident, Parisi carried a State Farm insurance policy.[4] Parisi's policy provided $100, 000 in underinsured motorist coverage.[5]

         Parisi filed an underinsured motorist claim with State Farm via a letter dated May 23, 2014.[6] Parisi's attorney, Douglas Stoehr, drafted and signed the letter.[7] Stoehr stated that the other motorist carried a Met Life insurance policy with a $15, 000 limit.[8] Stoehr wrote that, given "the serious nature" of Ms. Parisi's injuries, he had "no doubt" that her claim would exceed the limit of the other driver's policy.[9]

         State Farm assigned Parisi's claim to Scott Whiteside, a claims representative.[10]Whiteside reviewed Parisi's claim on June 3, 2014, and determined that the other driver caused the crash.[11] The same day, Whiteside called Stoehr's office, but did not speak with Stoehr because he was unavailable.[12]

         On June 5, 2014, Whiteside wrote to Stoehr.[13] Whiteside asked Stoehr to provide State Farm with "written confirmation" of the other motorist's insurance limits and stated that State Farm would not authorize Stoehr to settle with the other motorist until it received this written confirmation.[14] Whiteside also stated that State Farm understood that Parisi continued to seek medical care for her injuries.[15] And Whiteside stated that State Farm needed records of "all injuries and all treatment" to finalize Parisi's claim.[16] Whiteside requested that "[u]pon your client concluding [her] medical treatment, please advise me regarding the same."[17]

         Whiteside entered two claims notes on June 15, 2014.[18] Whiteside stated that the "CV" (current value) of Parisi's claim was $0.[19] Whiteside also noted that he had requested additional information from Stoehr "so that UIM evaluation may be finalized."[20]

         2. State Farm Requests Additional Information

         Whiteside sent Stoehr six letters between July 2014 and January 2015.[21] These letters are extremely similar. In each letter, Whiteside requests that Stoehr provide State Farm with written confirmation of the other motorist's third-party coverage.[22] The letters either state that State Farm understands that Parisi continues to seek medical treatment for her injuries, or request that Stoehr inform State Farm about whether Parisi continues to receive treatment.[23] In each letter, Whiteside asks Stoehr to notify State Farm when Parisi completes treatment and requests that he provide State Farm with Parisi's complete medical records at that time.[24]

         Whiteside also states that Stoehr need not provide documentation of medical treatment that Parisi already submitted for her first-party claim.[25] This is because Whiteside had access to, and reviewed, the medical records from Parisi's first-party claims file.[26] These records included: two reports from Parisi's treating neurologist who, on May 13, 2014, diagnosed her with "post-concussion syndrome" and, during Parisi's second office visit on May 27, 2014, noted that she experienced "a lot of memory issues;" two reports from a concussion specialist who, during two appointments in May 2014, confirmed Parisi's diagnoses of a concussion and labyrinthine dysfunction and reported that she experienced difficulty concentrating and deficits in short-term memory; and records from the forty physical therapy sessions that Parisi completed between May 2014 and August 2014.[27]

         On February 18, 2015, Stoehr submitted another batch of Parisi's medical records.[28]These included E.R. records; reports from four different doctors who treated Ms. Parisi following the accident; and updated documentation of Parisi's ongoing physical therapy.[29]In this letter, Stoehr informed Whiteside that he typically "work[s] with the [underinsured motorist] claims representative after [he] settle[s] the underlying claim."[30] Whiteside confirmed receipt of the records via letter dated March 4, 2015.[31] Whiteside requested that Stoehr provide documentation of any future care that Parisi received so that State Farm could consider all treatment when making a final decision on her claim.[32]

         3. State Farm Completes an Injury Evaluation

         Whiteside completed an injury evaluation on March 17, 2015.[33] Whiteside noted that Parisi suffered from post-concussion syndrome and experienced dizziness, headaches, balance problems, and sensitivity to sound and light.[34] Whiteside confirmed that the automobile accident caused Parisi's injuries and concluded that Parisi's medical treatment appeared "reasonable and necessary."[35]

         Stoehr provided additional medical records on March 18, 2015.[36] These records included a report from Dr. Michael Drass, who conducted a physical examination of Parisi; two office notes from Dr. Clark, Parisi's neurologist; four months of records from Parisi's ongoing physical therapy; and reports from two visits to Parisi's primary care physician.[37] Additionally, Stoehr stated that Parisi might receive an evaluation by a neuropsychologist and that he would inform State Farm if that occurred.[38] Whiteside did not update the injury evaluation after he received these records.[39]

         Stoehr informed Whiteside via letter dated March 19, 2015, that he settled with the other motorist for the $15, 000 policy limit.[40]

         All told, Stoehr provided State Farm with over 200 pages of medical records in February and March 2015.[41] But Whiteside-who handled Parisi's claim until the end of May 2015-never asked to interview Parisi.[42] He never requested authorization to obtain Parisi's medical records himself.[43] He never utilized a nurse to evaluate Parisi's claim.[44] And he never asked Parisi to provide a statement under oath or submit to an independent medical examination.[45] But Whiteside did place a value on Parisi's claim.[46] In April 2015, Whiteside valued Parisi's claim between $0 and $7, 500.[47]

         Stoehr sent additional medical records on June 1, 2015.[48] These records included two reports from Dr. Clark, Parisi's neurologist, who noted Parisi's worsening "forgetfulness, headaches, and speech problems . .. ."[49] Stoehr also provided a report from Dr. Baker-the concussion specialist-who noted increased symptom severity.[50] Stoehr also submitted letters from Parisi's husband, daughter, and sister that detailed the changes they observed in Parisi since the car accident.[51] State Farm never responded to Stoehr's June 1, 2015 letter.[52]

         State Farm reassigned Parisi's claim to Edward Naser in August 2015.[53] Naser sent Stoehr letters in August and October 2015 that asked Stoehr to submit "your underinsured demand package when complete."[54] Stoehr did not respond to either letter.[55]

         Naser called Stoehr on November 11, 2015.[56] Stoehr told Naser that Parisi was still treating with her neurologist and that she had a follow-up appointment with her concussion specialist.[57] Stoehr told Naser that he would submit additional medical records to State Farm.[58]

         Naser sent Stoehr a letter on November 11, 2015 that asked Stoehr to submit a demand package for consideration.[59] Stoehr responded on November 19, 2015.[60] In his response, Stoehr provided Naser with a neurological evaluation prepared by Dr. Michelle Arbitell, dated May 14, 2015, which Parisi obtained at her own expense.[61] Dr. Arbitell reported that Parisi exhibited impairments in several tests of cognitive functioning.[62] Stoehr also provided updated treatment records from Parisi's speech language therapist, examination records from a physician, documentation of Parisi's lost wages and medical expenses, and an affidavit from a physician-assistant with whom Parisi worked. The physician-assistant testified that Parisi's work performance, attention, and concentration decreased precipitously following the car accident and that she could no longer rely on Parisi at work.[63] Additionally, Stoehr stated that Parisi scheduled an appointment with her neurologist in late December and that she would also schedule an appointment with her concussion specialist.[64] Stoehr concluded the letter by telling Naser that "[p]erhaps after these upcoming medical appointments we may be in a position to settle this claim."[65]

         4. State Farm Completes an Updated Injury Evaluation

         Naser interpreted Stoehr's submission of medical records on November 19, 2015 as a demand for settlement.[66] Naser completed an updated injury evaluation for Parisi's claim on December 15, 2015.[67] Naser noted that the car accident caused Parisi's injuries and that her medical treatment appeared to be "reasonable and necessary."[68] Naser set the value range on Parisi's claim between $35, 000 and $50, 000 for pain and suffering, $1, 800 for past medical bills, and $10, 000 for past wage loss.[69] Naser's estimate did not account for future pain and suffering.[70] Bill Reed, Naser's supervisor, understood that Naser asked for settlement authority by placing a value on Parisi's claim.[71] On December 24, 2015, Reed gave Naser authority to settle for up to $26, 800.[72]

         Stoehr sent another letter on December 30, 2015.[73] Stoehr enclosed a twenty-minute videotaped conversation between Parisi and her family which, according to Stoehr, elucidated Parisi's enduring cognitive deficits and the negative impacts that those defects had on her family life.[74] Stoehr stated that he would provide Naser with a report from a recent consultation with Parisi's neurologist.[75] Stoehr stated that, when he provided Naser with the note, "[a]t that time I will likely make a demand for settlement."[76] Stoehr advised Naser that he would demand the $100, 000 policy limit "at that time."[77] Stoehr requested that Naser explain State Farm's reasoning in writing if State Farm disagreed with Stoehr's opinion that the value of Parisi's claim exceeded the $100, 000 policy limit.[78]

         5. State Farm Offers to Settle

         During a telephone call with Stoehr on January 5, 2016, Naser offered to settle Parisi's claim for $17, 000.[79] This offer fell at the low end of Naser's settlement authority.[80]Naser did not offer to settle for $26, 800, even though he had the authority to settle for that amount.[81] Naser did not offer to settle for a higher amount within the range of his settlement authority because Stoehr unequivocally stated that Parisi would not accept less than $100, 000.[82] Naser did not think that Parisi would accept any settlement offer in State Farm's settlement range, and believed that making an additional offer within that range would have been futile.[83]

         State Farm had a policy to advance the amount of its first settlement offer to a claimant if the claimant and State Farm reached an "impasse" in settlement negotiations.[84]But Naser did not offer to advance Parisi $17, 000 because he did not believe that the parties reached an impasse.[85]

         Stoehr wrote to Naser again on January 13, 2016.[86] Stoehr enclosed updated medical records from Parisi's neurologist.[87] Stoehr also reiterated his request that State Farm explain its reasoning for offering less than the $100, 000 policy limit.[88] Stoehr further renewed his $100, 000 demand, stated that State Farm acted in bad faith by extending the $17, 000 offer, and threatened to sue unless State Farm provided written explanation for its decision to only offer $17, 000.[89]

         Naser updated his injury evaluation on January 22, 2016.[90] Naser noted that Parisi's cognitive deficits had increased in severity since she initially filed her claim.[91]

         Naser called Stoehr again on January 26, 2016.[92] Stoehr told Naser that Parisi scheduled follow-up appointments with her neurologist and concussion specialist.[93] Later that day, Naser updated the injury evaluation, noting that Parisi scheduled follow-up appointments for February 2016.[94] The following day, Naser updated the injury evaluation again, and wrote that "complaints and [treatment] continuing 1.5 years post-loss increase[s] pervious values."[95]

         6. State Farm Retains Outside Counsel

         Reed reviewed the updated injury evaluation and instructed Naser to retain outside counsel to assist the investigation and, specifically, to obtain a statement under oath and an independent medical examination.[96] State Farm had not previously asked Parisi to provide a statement under oath or submit to an independent medical examination.[97]

         Naser testified that head injuries are particularly difficult to evaluate.[98] Naser explained that he has relatively little experience with claims for head injuries, and that it is difficult to determine recovery time for head injuries."[99] According to Naser, State Farm waited until this point in its investigation to schedule the statement under oath and independent medical examination because it wanted to have a better sense of how Parisi's injuries progressed.[100]

         Naser called Stoehr on January 28, 2016 and told him that State Farm hired an outside law firm to obtain a statement under oath from Parisi.[101] Stoehr stated that he "might as well file suit."[102]

         State Farm hired outside counsel Thomas McDonnell to handle Parisi's claim.[103] On February 5, 2016, McDonnell requested that Parisi provide a statement under oath.[104] Parisi agreed to provide a statement.[105] The parties scheduled the statement for February 25, 2016.[106] It took place as scheduled.[107]

         On March 8, 2016, Stoehr notified Naser via letter that Parisi scheduled an appointment with a doctor at the UPMC Concussion Program for later that month.[108] Stoehr also renewed the $100, 000 settlement demand.[109] Once again, Stoehr threatened litigation if State Farm did not offer to settle the case for the $100, 000 limit.[110]

         On March 24, 2016, State Farm claims representatives held a conference call with Attorney McDonnell and discussed Parisi's claim.[111] Naser increased the valuation of Parisi's claim two times that day.[112] After the second adjustment, State Farm valued the "low range" of Parisi's claim at $50, 000 to $60, 000 for past pain and suffering, $10, 000 to $12, 000 for future pain and suffering, and $1, 800 to $8, 000 for past medical bills.[113] Thus, according to State Farm's calculations, the minimum value of Parisi's claim was $61, 800. State Farm valued the "high range" of Parisi's claim at $70, 000 to $75, 000 for past pain and suffering; $20, 000 to $22, 500 for future pain and suffering, and $1, 800 to $10, 000 for past medical bills.[114] Thus, the maximum value of Parisi's claim exceeded the $100, 000 policy limit.[115]

         State Farm updated Parisi's file again two days later. State Farm created a stacking claim as permitted by Parisi's policy.[116] Additionally, a notation was entered that stated "[l]ets move forward with a neuropsych IME to address cognitive/concussion related issues."[117] State Farm claims that Reed entered this message, [118] though the claims file does not identify a "performer" for this entry.[119]

         7. Parisi Undergoes an Independent Medical Examination and State Farm Offers to Settle for the Policy Limit

         On April 6, 2016, Attorney McDonnell contacted Stoehr to coordinate an independent medical examination.[120] On June 1, 2016, Naser wrote to Stoehr and advised him that McDonnel would contact him again to schedule Parisi's appointment.[121] On June 21, 2016, Stoehr received a letter from Prizm Medical Resources stating that Parisi's independent medical examination had been scheduled for July 27, 2016 in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania.[122]

         Stoehr wrote Nasser on July 5, 2016.[123] Stoehr objected to the independent medical examination taking place in Mount Lebanon because Parisi would have trouble traveling there due to her cognitive difficulties.[124] Stoehr also wrote that he would sue State Farm for bad faith and breach of contract.[125]

         Nasser responded to Stoehr's letter on July 7, 2016.[126] Naser informed Stoehr that he forwarded Stoehr's letter to McDonnell and stated that State Farm would reimburse Parisi's wages and transportation costs associated with participating in the independent medical examination.[127]

         McDonnell responded to Stoehr's letter on July 13, 2016.[128] McDonnell stated that he would consider scheduling the independent medical examination closer to Parisi's residence and requested that Stoehr identify other neuropsychologists who Parisi would prefer.[129] In late July, Stoehr proposed that Dr. Wayne D'Agaro, a psychologist in Altoona, Pennsylvania, conduct the independent medical examination.[130] McDonnell agreed with this proposal.[131]

         Stoehr wrote to McDonnell on August 4, 2016 and provided McDonnell with a copy of the complaint he filed against State Farm before this Court.[132]

         On August 10, 2016, Prizm contacted Stoehr and scheduled a neuropsychological examination with Dr. D'Agaro on September 26, 2016.[133] The examination took place as scheduled.[134]

         Dr. D'Agaro completed a report on October 13, 2016.[135] Dr. D'Agaro diagnosed Parisi with mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury caused by the car accident.[136]

         On November 2, 2016, State Farm offered Parisi a $100, 000 settlement, the coverage limit of her policy.[137] Parisi accepted.

         B. Procedural History

         Parisi asserts three counts in her Amended Complaint: (1) contractual bad faith; (2) statutory bad faith under 42 Pa. C.S. § 8371; and (3) violations of Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law ("UTPCPL"), 73. P.S. § 201-1. (ECF No. 8.)

         Parisi moves for partial summary judgment on her bad faith claim. (ECF No. 38.) State Farm moves for summary judgment on all of Ms. Parisi's claims. (ECF No. 40.)

         IV. Legal Standard

         "Summary judgment is appropriate only where . . . there is no genuine issue as to any material fact . . . and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Melrose, Inc. v. Pittsburgh, 613 F.3d 380, 387 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Ruehl v. Viacom, Inc., 500 F.3d 375, 380 n.6 (3d Cir. 2007)); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Issues of fact are genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see also McGreevy v. Stroup, 413 F.3d 359, 363 (3d Cir. 2005). Material facts are those that will affect the outcome of the trial under governing law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court's role is "not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter, but only to determine whether the evidence of record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009). "In making this determination, 'a court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all inferences in that party's favor.'" Farrell v. Planters Lifesavers Co., 206 F.3d 271, 278 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting Armbruster v. Unisys Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 777 (3d Cir. 1994)).

         The moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party meets this burden, the party opposing summary judgment "may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials" of the pleading, but "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 n.ll (1986)). "For an issue to be genuine, the nonmovant needs to supply more than a scintilla of evidence in support of its position-there must be sufficient evidence (not mere allegations) for a reasonable jury to find for the nonmovant." Coolspring Stone Supply v. Am. States Life Ins. Co., 10 F.3d 144, 148 (3d Cir. 1993); see also Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Sew., 409 F.3d 584, 594 (3d Cir. 2005) (noting that a party opposing summary judgment "must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine issue") (internal quotation marks omitted).

         V. Discussion: Bad Faith Claims

         A. Contractual Bad Faith (Breach of Contract)

         "To state a claim for breach of contract under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff must plead the following elements: (1) the existence of a contract, including its essential terms; (2) the defendant's breach of duty imposed by the terms; and (3) actual loss or injury as a direct result of the breach." Angino v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 666 Fed.Appx. 204, 207 (3d Cir. 2016) (citing Ware v. Rodale Press, Inc., 322 F.3d 218, 225 (3d Cir. 2003)); Haywood v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 976 F.Supp.2d 606, 625 (W.D. Pa. 2013) (Conti, J.) (citing Ware). "In Pennsylvania, a duty of good faith and fair dealing is implicit in an insurance contract." Rowe v. Nationwide Ins. Co., 6 F.Supp.3d 621, 629 (W.D. Pa. 2014) (Gibson, J.) (quoting Simmons v. Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 788 F.Supp.2d 404, 408 (W.D. Pa. 2011)).

         "To prove a contractual bad faith claim, a plaintiff must show that the insurer's conduct was unreasonable or negligent." Rowe, 6 F.Supp.3d at 629 (citing CRS Auto Parts, Inc. v. Natl Grange Mut. Ins. Co., 645 F.Supp.2d 354, 369 (E.D. Pa. 2009)). A plaintiff must establish an insurer's contractual bad faith by clear and convincing evidence. Rowe, 6 F.Supp.3d at 629 (citing Campbell v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 617 F.Supp.2d 378, 383 (W.D. Pa. 2008)).

         "Generally, when an insurance company has paid the proceeds of an insurance policy, there can be no breach of contract claim because the insured has received what she was due under the policy and therefore has no damages." Smith v. Allstate Ins. Co., 904 F.Supp.2d 515, 521 (W.D. Pa. 2012) (Gibson, J.) (internal citations omitted.) But "[w]hen a party sues for damages stemming from an insurer's bad faith in handling a claim . . . the damages sought may be different from the damages compensated by payment pursuant to the insurance policy and therefore may not be remedied by such payment." Id. (citing Birth Ctr. v. St. Paul Cos., 787 A.2d 376, 385 (2001)). Accordingly, "'where an insurer acts in bad faith, by unreasonably refusing to settle a claim, it breaches its contractual duty to act in good faith' and is liable for 'the known and/or foreseeable compensatory damages of its insured that reasonably flow from the insurer's bad faith conduct.'" Rowe, 6 F.Supp.3d at 629 (quoting Birth, 787 A.2d at 389).

         B. Statutory Bad Faith

         Pennsylvania's bad faith statute provides that:

In an action arising under an insurance policy, if the court finds that the insurer has acted in bad faith toward the insured, the court may take all of the following actions:
(1) Award interest on the amount of the claim from the date the claim was made by the insured in an amount equal to the prime rate of interest plus 3%.
(2) Award punitive damages against the insurer.
(3) Assess court costs and attorney fees against the insurer.

42 Pa. C.S. §8371.

         To succeed on a statutory bad faith claim, "the insured must prove: (1) that the insurer did not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy; and (2) that the insurer knew of or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis in denying the claim."[138] Nw. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Babayan, 430 F.3d 121, 137 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Keefe v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 218, 225 (3d Cir. 2000)); U.S. Fire Ins. Co. v. Kelman Bottles, 538 Fed.Appx. 175, 182 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Babayan); Terletsky v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 437 Pa. Super. 108, 125 (1994); Rowe, 6 F.Supp.3d at 630; Hayden v. Westfield Ins. Co., No. CIV.A. 12-0390, 2013 WL 5781121, at *10 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 25, 2013) (Hornak, J.); Lewis v. Atl. States Ins. Co., No. 2:08-CV-01040-LPL, 2014 WL 12595309, at *7 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 26, 2014) (Lenihan, M.J.)

         As this Court has previously noted, "Section 8371 encompasses a broad range of insurer conduct." Smith, 904 F.Supp.2d at 524. Although Section 8371 does not define the term "bad faith, " "courts have subsequently determined that a variety of carrier actions can constitute bad faith, including 'a frivolous or unfounded refusal to pay, lack of investigation into the facts, or a failure to communicate with the insured.'" Hamm v. Allstate Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 908 F.Supp.2d 656, 669 (W.D. Pa. 2012) (quoting Frog, Switch & Mfg. Co., Inc. v. Travelers Ins. Co., 193 F.3d 742, 751 n. 9 (3d Cir. 1999)). An insurer's delay in processing a claim can also constitute bad faith. See, e.g., Mirarchi v. Seneca Specialty Ins. Co., 564 Fed.Appx. 652, 655 (3d Cir. 2014).

         State Farm ultimately paid Parisi the maximum benefit permitted under her policy. Accordingly, Parisi alleges that State Farm acted in bad faith by delaying payment of her claim-not by denying payment outright. To prevail on her "bad faith delay" claim, Parisi must prove that State Farm (1) "had no reasonable basis for causing the delay" and (2) "knew or recklessly disregarded the lack of a reasonable basis for the delay." Mirarchi, 564 Fed.Appx. at 655-56 (citing Thomer v. Allstate Ins. Co., 790 F.Supp.2d 360, 369-70 (E.D. Pa. 2011)); Sands v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. 5:17-CV-4160, 2018 WL 1693387, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 6, 2018) (citing Mirarchi); see Ridolfi v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 146 F.Supp.3d 619, 623 (M.D. Pa. 2015) (citing Wiener v. Banner Life Ins. Co., No. 2-1351, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4957, at *19-20 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 28, 2003)); Ressler v. Enter. Rent-A-Car Co., No. CIV.A. 06-562, 2007 WL 2071655, at *7 (W.D. Pa. July 13, 2007) (Ambrose, J.) (citing Wiener).

         But "[a]n insurer's delay in settling a claim 'does not, on its own, necessarily constitute bad faith.'" Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC v. Stephens Garden Creations, Inc., 119 F.Supp.3d 297, 306 (E.D. Pa. 2015) (quoting Kosierowski v. Allstate Ins. Co., 51 F.Supp.2d 583, 588 (E.D. Pa. 1999)). "A delay attributable to the uncertainty of the claim's value or the insurer's need to investigate further does not constitute bad faith." Great Lakes, 119 F.Supp.3d at 306 (citing Quaciari v. Allstate Ins. Co., 998 F.Supp. 578, 583 (E.D. Pa. 1998)). And "if delay is attributable to the need to investigate further or even to simple negligence, no bad faith has occurred." Sands, 2018 WL 1693387, at *6 (quoting Williams v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., 83 F.Supp.2d 567, 572 (E.D. Pa. 2000)).

         Ms. Parisi further alleges that State Farm acted in bad faith by making a low-ball settlement offer. "Generally, Pennsylvania law does not treat as bad faith an insurer's low but reasonable estimate of an insured's losses." Seto v. State Farm Ins. Co., 855 F.Supp.2d 424, 430 (W.D. Pa. 2012) (citing Brown v. Progressive Ins. Co., 860 A.2d 493, 501 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2004)). But "low-ball offers which bear no reasonable relationship to an insured's actual losses can constitute bad faith within the meaning of § 8371." Seto, 855 F.Supp.2d at 430 (citing Brown, 860 A.2d at 501); Barry v. Ohio Cas. Grp., No. CIV.A.3;O4 188, 2007 WL 128878, at *8 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 12, 2007) (Gibson, J.); Schifino v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., No. 2;ll-CV-lO94, 2012 WL 6552839, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 14, 2012) (quoting Barry).

         "The insured is required to meet its burden of proving 'bad faith' by clear and convincing evidence." Babayan, 430 F.3d at 137 (citing Terletsky, 649 A.2d at 688); Henriquez- Disla v. Allstate Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., No. CIV.A. 13-284, 2015 WL 539550, at *9 (E.D. Pa. Feb.10, 2015). To satisfy this standard, "the plaintiff [must] show that the evidence is so clear, direct, weighty and convincing as to enable a clear conviction, without hesitation, about whether or not the defendants acted in bad faith." Hay den, 2013 WL 5781121, at *11 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting }.C. Penney Life Ins. Co. v. Pilosi, 393 F.3d 356, 367 (3d Cir. 2004)). Accordingly, "the plaintiff's burden in opposing a summary judgment motion is commensurately high in light of the substantive evidentiary burden at trial." Hayden, 2013 WL 5781121, at *11 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Pilosi, 393 F.3d at 367); Swan Caterers, Inc. v. Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. 12-CV-00024, 2012 WL 5508371, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 13, 2012).

         C. The Court Will Deny Both Parties' Motions for Summary Judgment on Bad Faith

         The Court finds that genuine issues of material fact exist that preclude the Court from entering summary judgment for either party on bad faith.

         1. The Court Will Deny Parisi's Partial Motion for Summary

         Judgment Because State Farm Presented Sufficient Evidence for a Reasonable Jury to Conclude that it Did Not Act in Bad Faith

         Parisi argues that this Court should grant summary judgment in her favor because State Farm failed to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation and engaged in low-ball settlement tactics. (See ECF No. 47 at 6, 25.) The Court rejects these arguments. As explained below, a reasonable jury could determine that State Farm appropriately handled Parisi's claim.

         i. A Reasonable Jury Could Find that the Delay Was Reasonable

         Parisi correctly notes that a significant period of time -approximately two-and-a-half years-elapsed between Parisi's filing her claim on May 23, 2014 and State Farm's offer to settle for the policy limit on November 2, 2016. But Stoehr told State Farm that he usually did not work with claims representatives until he settled the underlying claim with the other driver.[139] Stoehr did not settle the underlying claim until March 19, 2015.[140] And even after he settled the underlying claim, Stoehr did not indicate any desire to expeditiously settle Parisi's claim with State Farm. In fact, in letters dated November 19, 2015 and December 30, 2015, Stoehr explicitly stated that he would make a settlement demand at a future date.[141] In fact, it appears that Stoehr first demanded settlement during a phone conversation on January 5, 2016, [142] and did not make a written demand for settlement until January 13, 2016.[143]

         Once Stoehr made formal demands for settlement, State Farm acted to promptly resolve Parisi's claim. In late January, State Farm hired McDonnell to conduct a statement under oath.[144] McDonnell took Parisi's statement under oath on February 25, 2016[145]-six weeks after Stoehr made his written settlement demand. In March, State Farm held a conference call with McDonnell to discuss Parisi's statement under oath and decided to schedule an independent medical examination.[146] In early June, State Farm informed Stoehr that it scheduled the independent medical examination for July.[147] Importantly, State Farm scheduled the independent medical examination before Parisi filed suit.[148] And while State Farm rescheduled the independent medical examination, it did so because Stoehr objected to its taking place in Mount Lebanon.[149] Finally, State Farm settled Parisi's claim approximately three weeks after it received the report from the independent medical examination.[150]

         Based on these undisputed facts, a reasonable jury could easily find that State Farm did not unreasonably delay in processing Parisi's claim.

         ii. A Reasonable Jury Could Find that State Farm's Settlement TacticsDid ...


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