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 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
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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
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Is an Argument Challenging Precedent Bad Faith? Pennsylvania Bad Faith Ruling in Asbestos Coverage Case Raises This Important Question

Since 1993, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in the J.H. France case has dictated that the continuous trigger rule be applied to determine what insurance policies are triggered for asbestos injury claims. Under J.H. France, coverage is provided by policies in effect from the time the claimant was first exposed to asbestos until injury manifests as mesothelioma. The J.H. France court’s decision was expressly based on the science behind mesothelioma, which indicates that mesothelioma is a continuous, progressive injury that
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A Bad Faith Cautionary Tale: Ninth Circuit Affirms $8.7 Million Award for Bad Faith Coverage Denial

In Millennium Laboratories, Inc. v. Darwin Select Insurance Co., No. 15-55227, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1533 (9th Cir. Jan. 27, 2017), the Ninth Circuit held that Darwin Select Insurance Company breached its duty to defend its insured, Millennium Laboratories, Inc., against two third-party lawsuits (Ameritox and Calloway). The court further held that Darwin’s failure to defend Millennium was in bad faith. As background, Millennium filed a complaint seeking coverage regarding two underlying lawsuits alleging Millennium told its customers that its
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Supreme Court of Texas Puts a Dent in Policyholders’ Demand for Discovery of Other Claims in Hail Storm MDL

On October 28, 2016, the Supreme Court of Texas squelched a trial court order granting a policyholders’ motion to compel that reached its bench by mandamus petition. The dispute arose out of multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving claims for property damage caused by the 2012 hail storms that tormented Hidalgo County, Texas. The policyholders sought compensatory and extra-contractual damages against several insurers for underpayment of insurance claims. A pretrial court appointed by the MDL panel granted the policyholders’ motion to compel
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Bad Faith Without Dishonest Motive, Self-Interest, or Ill-Will? Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Decide

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to review an appellate court decision in Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company, a case dealing with whether a showing of “dishonest motive” or “ill-will” is necessary to prove that an insurance company acted in bad faith. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision will be its first word on the definition of “bad faith” as used in the Pennsylvania bad faith statute. In Rancosky, a husband and wife, both cancer patients, filed a lawsuit
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Defense Counsel’s Billing Records Are Discoverable When an Insured Seeks Payment of Attorney’s Fees for Bad Faith

While one may expect that an insurer opposing an award of attorney’s fees to a plaintiff in bad faith litigation would be entitled to review the billing records of the plaintiff’s attorney, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that an insurer’s defense counsel’s billing records are discoverable by the plaintiff. In Paton v. GEICO General Insurance Company, the plaintiff insured asserted a bad faith claim against her UM insurer and sought recovery of attorney’s fees. To support the reasonableness of
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New Law and a New Trial: Eleventh Circuit Overturns Florida Court Judgment Against GEICO in Bad Faith Lawsuit

On Wednesday, August 19, 2015 the Eleventh Circuit issued a significant ruling that allows evidence to be introduced at trial regarding previous decisions in that litigation, as well as changes in coverage law. In doing so, it vacated a $5 million bad faith judgment against GEICO General Insurance Co. (GEICO) from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit arises out of an automobile accident that occurred in 2006. The plaintiff represented the estate of a
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Bad Faith in Louisiana: Insured’s Claim for Bad Faith Not Limited to Statutory Cause of Action

In a multi-layered decision, Century Surety Company v. Belvins, (United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, August 18, 2015), the Fifth Circuit found that a policyholder could assert non-statutory bad faith claims against an insurer under Louisiana law.  It also held that a district court could not sua sponte dismiss unchallenged counterclaims without notice to the parties, and affirmed that Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of Am., 316 U.S. 491 (1942)’s broad abstention doctrine (applicable in declaratory judgment
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