United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION, United States District Judge.
before the court is defendant USAA Casualty Insurance
Company's motion for partial summary judgment, (Doc. 12),
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), with respect to
Count II of the complaint, bad faith. Upon review, and
finding that a reasonable jury could not conclude that the
defendant acted in bad faith thereby violating
Pennsylvania's bad faith statute, 42 Pa.C.S.
§8371, the defendant's motion will be GRANTED.
plaintiff, Brittany Shaw, filed the instant action in the
Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County on April 20, 2017.
On May 30, 2017, the defendant timely removed the action to
this court based upon diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1). An
answer to the complaint with affirmative defenses was filed
by defendant on June 12, 2017. (Doc. 4).
the completion of discovery, the defendant filed the instant
motion for partial summary judgment, (Doc. 12), on January
31, 2018, along with a statement of material facts,
supporting exhibits, (Docs. 13-18), and a supporting brief,
(Doc. 17). The plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the
defendant's motion for partial summary judgment on
February 27, 2018, (Doc. 20), and a response to
defendant's statement of material facts with exhibits,
(Doc. 19). On March 13, 2018, the defendant filed a reply
brief. (Doc. 21).
court has diversity jurisdiction over plaintiff's state
law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate if the “pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Turner v.
Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990).
A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find
for the non-moving party, and is material if it will affect
the outcome of the trial under governing substantive law.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986); Aetna Casualty & Sur. Co. v. Ericksen,
903 F.Supp. 836, 838 (M.D. Pa. 1995). At the summary judgment
stage, “the judge's function is not himself to
weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but
to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; see
also Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d
Cir. 2004) (holding that a court may not weigh the evidence
or make credibility determinations). The court must consider
all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Andreoli v.
Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir. 2007).
prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must
affirmatively identify those portions of the record which
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The moving party can
discharge the burden by showing that “on all the
essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden
of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the
non-moving party.” In re Bressman, 327 F.3d
229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003); see also Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 325. If the moving party meets this initial burden, the
non-moving party “must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts,
” but must show sufficient evidence to support a jury
verdict in its favor. Boyle v. County of Allegheny,
139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986)). However, if the non-moving party “fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to [the non-movant's] case, and on
which [the non-movant] will bear the burden of proof at
trial, ” Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment
because such a failure “necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
322-23; Jakimas v. Hoffman La Roche, Inc., 485 F.3d
770, 777 (3d Cir. 2007).
motion, the defendant seeks summary judgment only as to the
bad faith claim, Count II. In support of its motion, the
defendant has submitted a statement of material facts, with
supporting exhibits, and the plaintiff responded to it and
submitted exhibits. In large part, plaintiff agrees with the
facts stated by the defendant.
March 8, 2012, plaintiff, while a pedestrian, was involved in
a motor vehicle accident in Moosic, Pennsylvania.
Specifically, plaintiff was crossing the street in front of
the preschool where she worked, when she was struck by a
Nissan Infiniti owned and operated by Laurie Kolatis-Mecca.
Plaintiff sustained bodily injuries from the accident. At the
time of the accident, Kolatis-Mecca was insured under a motor
vehicle insurance policy issued by State Farm Insurance
Company. The State Farm Policy provided bodily injury
liability limits in the amount of $100, 000. At the time of
the accident, plaintiff was the named insured on an Auto
Insurance Policy, Number 018949213C 71025, which was issued
by defendant. This policy provided Underinsured Motorists
Bodily Injury Coverage with limits of $100, 000/$200, 000 per
person/per accident (“UIM limits”).
the accident, plaintiff filed a bodily injury claim against
Kolatis-Mecca under her State Farm policy. Subsequently,
plaintiff filed an action against Kolatis-Mecca in the
Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas, at No.
4871-CIVIL-2013. Eventually, plaintiff settled her bodily
injury claim against Kolatis-Mecca for $50, 000 of the $100,
000 State Farm policy liability limits. She also signed a
Release of all claims against Kolatis-Mecca.
February 11, 2014, plaintiff submitted a claim for UIM
benefits under her policy with defendant. Defendant then
initiated an investigation and adjustment of plaintiff's
claim for UIM benefits. Defendant's claims log as well as
the records of communications between defendant and
plaintiff's counsel document defendant's handling of
plaintiff's UIM claim. (Doc. 12-5, Exs. 4, 5). However,
in response plaintiff alleges that:
[Defendant] did not fully investigate nor revise in any way
its initial assessment despite Plaintiff submitting treating
Doctor's Medical Records, Economic Expert Report and
proposed Complaint in January 2017, (Plaintiff's Motion
Exhibit “A” attached), but rather continued to
send out its routine “30 day” letters, and did
not review or revise its initial evaluation as set forth in
USAA's letters, and the claim notes/log of January,
February, March and April, 2017, (Plaintiff's Motion
Exhibit “B” attached). [Defendant] ignored the
Plaintiff's expert submissions (Plaintiff's Motion
Exhibit C and D attached) and thus requiring a filing of suit
on April 20, 2017.
its investigation, defendant determined that the overall
value of plaintiff's liability claim against
Kolatis-Mecca did not exceed the $100, 000 liability limits
in effect under Kolatis-Mecca's State Farm policy.
Plaintiff contends that defendant determined the overall
claim value before it received her treating doctor's
report and her economic report. ...