United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
and Tiffany Doyle sued Liberty Mutual Insurance
(“Liberty Mutual”), alleging breach of contract,
bad faith, and loss of consortium related to Liberty
Mutual's handling of Jason Doyle's claim for
underinsured motorist (“UIM”) benefits. Liberty
Mutual filed this Motion to Dismiss Count II (Bad Faith) of
Plaintiffs' Complaint on September 6, 2019. For the
reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion to dismiss
and grants Plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint.
17, 2018, Jason Doyle was injured when a vehicle struck him
as he crossed the street. (Compl. ¶ 8.) The driver's
insurance company, Progressive Insurance, tendered the limits
of the driver's policy, $15, 000.00, as settlement of
Doyle's claim. (Compl. ¶ 18, Ex. “B”.)
At the time of the accident, Plaintiff held a UIM policy with
Liberty Mutual with a $300, 000.00 limit. (Compl. ¶ 7,
Ex. “A”.) Plaintiffs demanded the policy limit
and provided Defendant with “the same documentation
which supported Progressive Insurance's tender of the
full limits of its policy” but Liberty Mutual has not
paid Plaintiff's claim. (Compl. ¶ 21.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
deciding a motion to dismiss for “failure to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, ” the Court
must accept as true all factual allegations in the complaint
and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); McDermott v. Clondalkin Group,
Inc., 649 Fed.Appx. 263, 266 (3d Cir. 2016). “To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009),
quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 557 (2007). The plausibility requirement “asks for
more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678.
argues that “Plaintiffs have not alleged any facts
sufficient to sustain a cause of action for bad faith.”
(Def.'s Mot. To Dismiss ¶ 8.) The Court agrees.
Under Pennsylvania law, to prevail in a bad faith action
pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8371, a plaintiff must
establish: “(1) that the insurer did not have a
reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy and
(2) that the insurer knew or recklessly disregarded its lack
of a reasonable basis in denying the claim.”
Rancosky v. Washington Nat'l Ins.e Co., 170 A.3d
364, 377 (Pa. 2017). “A plaintiff must plead specific
facts as evidence of bad faith and cannot rely on conclusory
statements.” Toner v. GEICO Ins. Co., 262
F.Supp.3d 200, 208 (E.D. Pa. 2017). He or she cannot simply
state the insurer acted unfairly; the complaint “must
describe with specificity what was unfair.”
Plaintiffs allege that Defendant acted in bad faith by:
“failing to evaluate Plaintiff's claim objectively
and fairly; failing to complete a prompt and thorough
investigation of Plaintiff's claim... [and] unreasonably
withholding policy benefits[.]” (Compl. ¶ 34.)
Plaintiff's conclusory allegations are not supported by
specific facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for
relief. Courts consistently hold that bare-bones allegations
of bad faith such as these, without more, are insufficient to
survive a motion to dismiss. Indeed, conclusory allegations
that an insurer “unreasonably withheld the payment of
[UIM] benefits under the policy…failed to engage in
good faith negotiations… [and] failed to perform an
adequate investigation” are insufficient to state a
claim for bad faith. McDonough v. State Farm Fire and
Cas. Co., 365 F.Supp.3d 552, 557 (E.D. Pa. 2019).
See also Atiyeh v. National Fire Ins. Co. of
Hartford, 742 F.Supp.2d 591, 599 (E.D. Pa. 2010).
alleges Liberty Mutual failed to conduct a fair and
reasonable investigation into his claim but does not plead
any facts related to that investigation. He contends that
Liberty Mutual acted unreasonably because it did not pay his
claims even when he provided the same information that led
Progressive Insurance to tender the limits of its policy.
However, “the failure to immediately accede to a demand
for the policy limit cannot, without more, amount to bad
faith.” Smith v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins.
Co., 506 Fed.Appx. 133, 137 (3d Cir. 2012). Thus,
without additional factual allegations, the Court cannot
infer bad faith on the part of Liberty Mutual.
foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion is granted. Count
II of the Complaint is dismissed. Plaintiffs may file an
amended complaint to add a bad faith claim, but only if they
can plausibly do so. An ...