Practice Areas & Industries: Fineman Krekstein & Harris, P.C.

 




Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Fineman Krekstein & Harris has developed an expertise in insurance coverage and insurance bad faith law.  We have served as counselors in rendering coverage opinion letters and advising clients on coverage claims, and how to institute practices that will preclude bad faith claims.  We have also litigated coverage and bad faith cases when necessary to assert or defend the carrier’s position.  We understand these issues from the perspective of preventing unnecessary problems before they have a chance to arise, to litigating them before judge or jury.  Our experience in bad faith litigation is well reflected in our attorneys’ practice as counselors and litigators, as speakers and authors, and in our comprehensive Pennsylvania Insurance Bad Faith Case Blog.

Representative Matters

  • Represented an insurance carrier that was sued for breach of contract and bad faith arising out of the insurer’s denial of coverage for a civil law suit in which the insured allegedly accidently killed the decedent.  The insured pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter admitting that he had an imperfect claim of self-defense, when he struck the decedent with a loaded pistol that accidently discharged, killing the decedent.  Agreeing with our interpretation of the criminal acts exclusion in the insurance policy, the court found that the insurer acted properly in denying coverage because it was the criminal nature of the act, not the degree of criminal culpability, which triggered the applicability of the exclusion.
     
  • Won a judgment on the pleadings in a declaratory judgment action filed on the insurer’s behalf in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’ Commerce Case Management Program.  The Court found that the alleged use of the automobile attributed to the insured’s employee, which allegedly caused the harm, was excluded under the policy.  The underlying case had been stayed pending the resolution of the declaratory judgment action, which was decided on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
     
  • Successfully obtained a dismissal of an insured's claims for breach of contract and bad faith against an insurer in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The insured had been sued for harm caused on its business premises, and sought a defense from its carrier. The carrier denied that it had any obligations to defend or cover the loss in that underlying action based on the facts and the policy's terms and conditions. The insured then brought the breach of contract and bad faith claims in federal court, based on the denial. The Firm's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure12(b)(6) was successful, the Court first finding no basis for coverage as to the underlying claims, which in turn eliminated any possibility of bad faith.
     
  • The Firm obtained a successful decision in a bad faith case on behalf of the insurer and a third party administrator in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania; and then were successful in having that  decision upheld on appeal by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.   The issue focused on the timing of the alleged underlying injury, an alleged duty to find the actual insurer, and the insured’s claims that the reservation of rights letter caused him actionable physical harm.  The Firm won a motion for summary judgment, contesting each of the numerous theories of liability being advanced by the insured, as the court found no duty breached.  The Superior Court affirmed.
     
  • Represented an insurance carrier in a case in which police officers sought a defense and indemnity in response to plaintiffs’ claims that the officers sent anonymous harassing text messages. Plaintiffs sued the officers alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence per se for violations of two criminal statutes - harassment and disorderly conduct - invasion of privacy and conspiracy.   The trial court ruled in the insurer’s favor, finding that there was no duty to defend and indemnify the police officers as there was no occurrence to trigger coverage and that the allegations of intentional conduct fell outside the scope of their employment.
     
  • Obtained summary judgment in favor of the insurer for its alleged bad faith in denying a water loss claim.   Plaintiff alleged that she had interior water damage to her home due to wind damage to the roof.  After conducting a thorough inspection of the roof and the interior, the insurer concluded that none of the damage caused to the interior or the roof was caused by wind damage. The plaintiff instituted an action against the insurer arising out of its denial to pay benefits for her alleged loss.  The court agreed that the insurer acted reasonably in denying coverage and did not act in bad faith.

 
 
Articles Authored by Lawyers at this office:

Motion To Dismiss Not Suitable Means to Address Whether Insurer's Position Was Fairly Debatable, In This Action, And Was Therefore Denied (New Jersey Federal)
, April 17, 2015
In Zodda v. National Union Fire Insurance Company, the insured pleaded bad faith, among other claims, for denial of benefits on a disability policy. The insured brought claims against multiple insurers, alleging an elaborate scheme in marketing the disability insurance at issue, and in denying...

Dietz & Watson Part I: Statutory Mediation Privilege Applies To Mediations In Underlying Tort Action Where Discovery Is Sought For Subsequent Bad Faith Case; Mediation Privilege Applies To Non-Lawyer Insurer Representatives; And Court Instructs Insurer To Provide A More Detailed Privilege Log For Documents Outside The Mediation Privilege Where The Insurer Seeks To Assert The Attorney Client Privilege Or Work Product Doctrine (Philadelphia Federal)
, April 01, 2015
In Dietz & Watson v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Magistrate Judge Rueter addressed numerous discovery issues in the context of third party insurance bad faith litigation. The insurer asserted that documents the insured sought were protected by the mediation privilege and/or the...

ERISA Preemption Defense Sufficient To Set Aside Default on State Law Claims (Middle District)
, April 01, 2015
In Davis v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., the insured brought claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and bad faith under the Pennsylvania Unfair Insurance Practices Act (“UIPA”), 40 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1171.1 et seq., pursuant to 42 Pa....

Even Where Court Rules against Insurer’s Interpretation of Policy Language, No Bad Faith Can Exist Where That Interpretation Is Reasonable (Middle District)
, April 01, 2015
In Gray v. Allstate Indemnity Company, the insured asserted breach of contract claim and bad faith claims due to the insurer’s alleged wrongful denial and refusal to pay insurance benefits for his fire loss claim, which was the result of vandalism. The insurer asserted that the property was...

Insured’s Bad Faith Claim Could Not Be Dismissed Solely On Basis That Examination Under Oath Had Not Occurred Prior To Filing Suit, Under The Circumstances Of This Case (Western District)
, April 01, 2015
In Johnson v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, the insured wife was hit by an underinsured motorist while jogging. The insureds’ own UIM limits were $250,000. The injuries were diagnosed as serious and she sought policy limits.

Insurer Entitled To Attorney’s Fees Against Other Insurer In Declaratory Judgment Action; Claim Of Unclean Hands Rejected (New Jersey Federal)
, April 01, 2015
In Carolina Casualty Insurance Company v. Travelers Property Casualty Company, the plaintiff insurer brought a declaratory judgment action against two other insurers. It sought a judgment that it owed no defense or coverage obligations in connection with an underlying claim. The defendant insurers...

New Jersey Appellate Division Makes Clear That Proper Practice Requires Severing Bad Faith Claim From Uninsured Motorist Claim, And Staying Discovery Of The Bad Faith Claim Until The Underlying Claim Is Determined (New Jersey Appellate Division)
, April 01, 2015
In Wacker-Ciocco v. GEICO, the court addressed the applicability of its earlier decision in Procopio v. Government Employees Insurance Company, 433 N.J. Super. 377, 80 A.3d 749 (App. Div. 2013), on the issue of discovery and severance of bad faith claims. In the earlier case, the appellate court...

New Jersey Supreme Court Finds No Bad Faith Where Insurer Relied Upon Unpublished Appellate Division Opinion In Taking Action, And Where Policy Language Made Insurer’s Position Fairly Debatable; Court Restates New Jersey Law On First Party Bad Faith Claims (New Jersey Supreme Court)
, April 01, 2015
In Badiali v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its second opinion in a single day involving first party insurance bad faith claims. The insured was injured by an uninsured motorist. The insured had two insurers. The matter went to arbitration on the...

New Jersey Supreme Court Finds Um Bad Faith Claim Barred By Res Judicata, But Refers The Following Issues To The Civil Practice Committee In Connection With The Scope And Applicability Of New Jersey’s Rules To Um Claims
, April 01, 2015
In Wadeer v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company, New Jersey’s Supreme Court took the opportunity to address potential changes in the Rules of Civil Procedure in the context of first party bad faith claims. In this uninsured motorist case, the plaintiff insured was injured by a driver...

No Bad Faith under “Fairly Debatable” Standard Where Dispute Existed Over Material Fact; Insureds Deemed To Have Received Policy So Long As Their Broker Received It (New Jersey Federal)
, April 01, 2015
In Dooley v. Scottsdale Insurance Company, the insured homeowners suffered a flood in their home from a frozen/burst piping system, during a nearly four week hiatus from their home in December. There was a dispute of fact over whether the insureds turned off their heat, or left the thermostat on at...

Plaintiff Stated Bad Faith Claim When Alleging That Insurer’s Adjuster Admitted a Basis for Loss as to Which Coverage Was Due, But Insurer Later Denied Coverage (New Jersey Federal)
, April 01, 2015
In Bannon v. Allstate Insurance Company, a Hurricane Sandy case, the policy provided “that coverage for dwellings or other structures did not include loss caused by ‘flood, including, but not limited to, surface water, waves, tidal water or overflow of any body of water or spray from...

Superior Court Upholds Bad Faith Punitive Damages Award, And Permits Inclusion of Attorney's Fees as Part of Base Number upon Which to Calculate Punitive Damages (Superior Court of Pennsylvania, non-precedential)
, April 01, 2015
In Davis v. Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, a non-precedential decision of the Superior Court, the insured brought breach of contract and bad faith claims against its title insurer. After a lengthy process from the time the claim was made to the time the insurer paid another party...

Where Material Issues Of Fact Exist Over Alleged Misrepresentations By Insured, Court Would Neither Dismiss The Insured’s Breach Of Contract Claim Or The Insurer’s Statutory Fraud Claim; However, Statutory Bad Faith Claim Could Be Dismissed (Philadelphia Federal)
, April 01, 2015
In Henriquez-Disla v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Company, the court addressed a battle of bad faith claims, the insured alleging breach of contract and bad faith for claim denials; and the insurer alleging insurance fraud in seeking dismissal of the insureds’ claims, and in...

(1) Following United States Supreme Court Precedent That A Plaintiff Can Control Removal To Federal Court By Limiting Damages Below $75,000, And (2) That Under Third Circuit Precedent This Would Act As An Estoppel, The Insured’s Bad Faith Case Remanded To State Court (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 25, 2015
In Petrille Wind P.C. v. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc., the insured lost a $50,000 judgment, which the carrier refused to defend. The insured brought a statutory bad faith claim, later removed to federal court. The complaint sought actual damages of $50,000, as well as punitive damages and...

Alleged Breach Of Duty To Identify Insurer’s Risk Of Exposure To A Bad Faith Claim For Failure To Settle Sounds In Negligence, Not Contract (Middle District)
, March 25, 2015
In New York Central Mutual Ins. Co v. Margolis Edelstein, the insurer alleged that its attorney failed to give it proper advice as a client, concerning settlement of a claim. Among other things, the insurer’s complaint alleged: that the attorney “agreed to perform legal services for...

Court Dismisses Boilerplate Bad Faith Claim With Prejudice, As No Conceivable Basis To Cure By Amendment (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 25, 2015
In Williams v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., the plaintiffs (an injured driver and two passengers in her car) brought an uninsured motorist claim against the injured driver’s insurer. The court found that the putative count for violating the UIM law was actually pleaded as a claim for breach of the...

No Breach Of Duty Of Good Faith And Fair Dealing Where No Bad Faith Or Ill Motive Pleaded, Which Are Essential Parts Of The Claim (New Jersey Federal)
, March 25, 2015
In Dean v. New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, the plaintiff’s claims concerned allegations of life insurance payments under her ex-husband’s policy directly to their daughters, rather than to her, individually, or to her as trustee for her daughters. A judgment of divorce had...

Summary Judgment Cannot Be Granted Where Issues Of Fact On Reasonableness And Intent Prongs Of Bad Faith Standards Exist, Focusing On Decision Not To Take A Deposition Or Statement Under Oath During Claim Process (Middle District)
, March 25, 2015
In Connolly v. Progressive Northern Insurance Company, the injured insured received a $250,000 settlement from a third party tortfeasor in connection with an auto accident. She pursued underinsured motorist coverage from her own insurer, and also alleged there were multiple policies entitling her...

Bad Faith Claim Futile Based On Discovery Disputes Involving Declaratory Judgment Claim; And Where Policy Provided Insurer A Reasonable Basis To Deny Claim (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 12, 2015
In Byars v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., plaintiff sought leave to amend his complaint to add an additional count against the defendant-insurer alleging bad faith. In the proposed amended complaint, Plaintiff alleged the insurer had acted in bad faith during the litigation process in the pending...

Court Affirms Trial Court’s Decision To Void The Policy, But Remands For Trial On State Of Mind Issue For Insurer’s Cause Of Action Under New Jersey’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (New Jersey Appellate Division)
, March 12, 2015
In Continental Casualty Co. v. Hochschild, an insured sought coverage for damage to his boat, and the insurer claimed that no coverage was due because of misrepresentations in the insurance application. The Appellate Division found that the policy was to be voided on the basis of equitable fraud,...

Federal Court Interprets Statutory Requirements Of Underinsured Waiver Rejection; Insured Does Not Need To Date Form For It Be Valid And Insureds’ Claims Dismissed (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 12, 2015
Husband and wife plaintiffs allege their vehicle was involved in an accident, the damages resulting from the collision exceeded the amount of insurance recovered from the tortfeasor, that they made a claim to their insurer for underinsured motorist coverage, and that the insurer wrongfully and in...

Where Insurer Denies Claim, And Insured Settles With Tortfeasor, Court Observes That If Insurer’s Denial Is In Bad Faith There Is An Equitable Waiver Of Its Subrogation Claim (New Jersey Appellate Division
, March 12, 2015
In Nucci v. American Insurance Company, New Jersey’s Appellate Division addressed an insurer’s subrogation rights where it had originally denied coverage, was subject to suit for non-payment, and the insured partially settled the matter with another co-defendant whom had caused the...

Alleging That Insurer Maliciously Audited And Re-Adjusted Premiums Did State A Claim For Breach Of The Duty Of Good Faith And Fair Dealing, Even Where Claims Handling Not Involved; Attorneys’ Fees Not Permitted; Punitive Damages Could Be Pursued (New Jersey Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In LM Ins. Corp v. All-Ply Roofing Co. the insured alleged, among other things, that the insurer audited its premiums, and reclassified its employees, as revenge for underreporting income, and that this stated a bad faith claim. The insurer argued there are no recognizable bad faith claims in New...

Bad Faith Claim Dismissed Due To Lack Of Factual Support To Make Out A Plausible Claim; Putative Discovery Violations During Litigation Cannot Constitute Basis For Insurance Bad Faith Claim (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In Morrissey v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., plaintiffs’ home was damaged by a fire, making it uninhabitable. Their homeowners’ insurance policy provided coverage limits of $220,000 for the house, $165,000 for personal property, and the actual value of the loss of use sustained....

Bad Faith Claim Stated For Conduct Occurring After Insurance Contract Was Entered, The Court Having Rejected The Argument That The Claim Was In The Nature Of Pre-Contract False Marketing (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In Jacoby v. AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, it was alleged that the insured purchased a life insurance policy that required an initial series of premium payments on the policy, but thereafter the premiums would be paid from dividends on the policy without the need for separate premium...

Court Conducts Close Analysis Of Whether Bad Faith Claim Should Be Remanded, And Finds That Remand Is Proper (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In Plunkett v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, a federal district court was once again faced with a motion to remand a removed bad faith action, where the insured made representations that the case was not seeking in excess of the $75,000 jurisdictional minimum. Specifically, the...

Court Dismisses Bad Faith Claim To The Extent It Sought Emotional Damages Under The Bad Faith Statute, Finding The Pennsylvania Statute Prescribes Specific Remedies (Middle District)
, March 05, 2015
In Hoffman v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., plaintiffs brought suit alleging a claim of breach of insurance contract and a statutory bad faith claim. Plaintiff purchased a homeowners’ insurance policy from the insurer, after which a fire rendered the home uninhabitable. The firefighters at...

Court Refuses To Universalize Bad Faith From Simple Denial Of Coverage In The Absence Of Specific Evidence Of Bad Faith (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In Easy Corner, Inc. v. State National Insurance Company, the court made clear the significance of a bad faith’s plaintiff’s need to prove something more than negligence, or that an insurer was simply wrong on coverage. In that case, the court granted summary judgment to the insurer...

New Jersey Appellate Division Reverses Trial Court’s Dismissal Of Insured’s Bad Faith Claim Due To Failure To Comply With Procedural Requirements (New Jersey Appellate Division)
, March 05, 2015
In Citizens United Reciprocal Exch. v. Espinoza, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court reversed and remanded a trial court’s dismissal of an insured’s counterclaim against its insurer alleging bad faith, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and other claims in a...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Issues Opinion On Gist Of The Action Doctrine
, March 05, 2015
In Bruno v. Erie Insurance Company, the Supreme Court affirmed the existence of the “gist of the action” doctrine. Rather than viewing this as a recent theory, initiated with the Superior Court’s 1992 Bash v. Bell Telephone Company of PA decision, the Supreme Court concluded that...

Plaintiff’s Uim Bad Faith Claim Narrowly Survives Summary Judgment Because Of Muddled Record As To What Caused Delays (Middle District)
, March 05, 2015
In Clemens v. New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company, plaintiff brought a UIM bad faith case, with the chief issues focusing on the 39 month time period between the claim being asserted and the filing of suit. There were three areas at issue on cross motions for summary judgment as to this...

UIM Bad Faith Plaintiff Adequately Pleads Claim Where Carrier Switches Positions On Basis For Denial (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In Lyman v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, plaintiffs brought breach of contract and bad faith claims against their UIM insurer. The carrier sought to dismiss the claims, asserting they were mere boilerplate and could not stand under Twombly. The court disagreed.

Where No Coverage Is Due An Insurer Has Good Cause To Deny Coverage, And Thus A Bad Faith Claim Cannot Stand (Philadelphia Federal)
, March 05, 2015
In Guglielmelli v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Insurance Company, the insured brought breach of contract and bad faith claims seeking damages for bodily injury under an automobile insurance policy. The policy incorporated a “sign-down form,” which reduced the uninsured/underinsured...

Federal Court Interprets Statutory Requirements Of Underinsured Waiver Rejection; Insured Does Not Need To Date Form For It Be Valid And Insureds' Claims Dismissed (Philadelphia Federal)
, February 17, 2015
Husband and wife plaintiffs allege their vehicle was involved in an accident, the damages resulting from the collision exceeded the amount of insurance recovered from the tortfeasor, that they made a claim to their insurer for underinsured motorist coverage, and that the insurer wrongfully and in...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules That Statutory Bad Faith Claims May Be Assigned, Focusing On Legislative Intent And Remedial Nature Of Statute (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania)
, February 17, 2015
In Allstate Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Wolfe, the Third Circuit had certified the issue to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as to whether an insured may assign the right to recover damages from his insurance company deriving from the insurer’s bad faith toward the insured, under 42...

Where Insurer Denies Claim, And Insured Settles With Tortfeasor, Court Observes That If Insurer's Denial Is In Bad Faith There Is An Equitable Waiver Of Its Subrogation Claim (New Jersey Appellate Division)
, February 17, 2015
In Nucci v. American Insurance Company, New Jersey’s Appellate Division addressed an insurer’s subrogation rights where it had originally denied coverage, was subject to suit for non-payment, and the insured partially settled the matter with another co-defendant whom had caused the...