Venue Matters: Evaluating the Applicable Standard for Bad Faith Claims in New York

The insurance market has a strong interest in minimizing extra-contractual claims against it. These issues are often decided summarily at the pre-answer motion to dismiss stage or after discovery on summary judgment. Notably, however, since 2018, New York courts have articulated varying standards in evaluating a policyholder’s claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith seeking consequential damages against its insurer in the context of these motions.

Insurers have traditionally defended themselves against these extra-contractual claims by advancing two main arguments:

  1. They are
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Absent Policyholder Demand To Settle, Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Bad Faith Action Against Insurer After Unexpected Excess Judgment

The Seventh Circuit, applying Illinois law, recently tackled the highly-charged issue of a bad faith claim against an insurer for failing to settle for the policy limit. In Surgery Center at 900 North Michigan Avenue, LLC v. American Physicians Assurance Corp., Inc., the Seventh Circuit closely scrutinized the facts and affirmed the trial court’s decision that the insurer did not act in bad faith.

 The coverage dispute arose between the Surgery Center at 900 North Michigan Avenue, LLC (Surgery Center) and its insurer when …

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Supreme Court of Georgia Raises the Bar for Bad Faith Claimants

In a long-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court of Georgia clarified the state’s law on the prerequisites for an insured to sue its insurance carrier for bad faith failure to settle. The court asked the parties to address a specific question: does an insurer’s duty to settle arise only when an injured party presents a valid offer to settle within the insured’s policy limits or, even absent such an offer, does a duty arise when the insurer knows or reasonably should know that settlement within policy …

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Not So Fast – Pennsylvania’s Bad Faith Statute Is Not A Blank Check for Fees

The Third Circuit recently held that a jury bad faith damage award does not automatically entitle a successful claimant to an award of attorney’s fees under Pennsylvania’s bad faith statute. In affirming the district court’s denial of an award of attorney’s fees, the Third Circuit formally endorsed the view that where a fee-shifting statute provides a court with discretion to award attorney’s fees, such discretion includes the ability to deny a fee request that is outrageously excessive. In doing so, the Third Circuit joins the …

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NY Court Clarifies Pleading Standard for “Consequential Damages” in Coverage Litigation

The Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court, First Department, recently overturned a trial court’s dismissal of an insured’s claim for consequential damages on a pre-answer motion to dismiss.  While the decision sheds light on the degree of specificity required at the pleading stage to sustain an insured’s claim for consequential damages, it does little to clarify the level of proof required to prevail on such claim at trial.      

The coverage dispute among the parties in D.K. Property, Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance …

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Dismiss or Abate? The Eleventh Circuit Dismisses Bad Faith Allegations in Breach of Insurance Contract Actions

The longstanding debate in Florida’s state courts as to whether bad faith allegations can remain in a pending breach of insurance contract case, or whether they must be dismissed pending the outcome of the coverage dispute, has now reached the federal courts.

In Aligned Bayshore Holdings, LLC v. Westchester Surplus Lines Ins. Co., 2018 WL 6448632, Case No. 18-21692-Civ-Scola (S.D. Fla. Dec. 10, 2018), the insured sustained losses due to Hurricane Irma and submitted a claim to its insurer, which did not promptly pay …

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New York Appellate Division Split on Claim Preclusion of Bad Faith Action

By decision dated June 8, 2018, the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the trial court’s denial of an insurer’s motion to dismiss bad faith claims based on res judicata, in defiance of prior precedent from a separate Department of the Appellate Division.

Corle v. Allstate Ins. Co., N.Y.S.3d , 2018 WL 2751204 (4th Dept. 2018) arises out of an incident in which the plaintiff, Colin Corle (Corle) was shot by Jeoffrey lee Bauter Teeter (Teeter).  Teeter’s homeowners’ insurer …

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules that Bad Faith Does Not Require Proof of an Insurer’s Self-Interest or Ill-Will

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled today that the Pennsylvania bad faith statute does not require a plaintiff to prove that an insurer was motivated by self-interest or ill-will when denying benefits under an insurance policy. Instead, the court’s decision in Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company adopted the standard established by the Pennsylvania Superior Court 23 years ago in Terletsky v. Prudential Property & Casualty Company, under which a bad faith claim is established by clear and convincing evidence

  1. that the insurer did not
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Minnesota Supreme Court Limits Insurers’ Extracontractual Liability: An Insured’s Recovery of “Proceeds Awarded” for Insurer’s Unreasonable Denial of Benefits Must Consider Policy Limit

In Wilbur v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. A15-1438 (Minn. April 5, 2017), the Minnesota Supreme Court greatly limited the insured’s recovery under the First-Party Bad Faith Statute, Section (Minn. Stat. § 604.18). Although State Farm was found to have unreasonably denied John Wilbur benefits under his underinsured-motorist policy, the calculation of his recovery for “proceeds awarded” had to take into account the policy’s limit of liability.

As background, on January 10, 2009, Wilbur suffered serious neck injuries and permanent nerve damage …

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Massachusetts Ruling Costs Plaintiff More Than $4 Million in Bad-Faith Litigation Lawsuit: Post-Judgment Interest Not a Factor in Punitive Damages Calculations

In Anderson et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh PA & Others, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that post-judgment interest should not be factored into a punitive damages calculation against an insurer when it was found to have acted willfully and egregiously by engaging in unfair trade practices and refusing to settle the underlying tort suit. In reversing the lower court’s grant of trebled post-judgment interest, the court left other parts of the verdicts undisturbed, ending a case that began …

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