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:

Court Dismisses Bank’s Claim Against Title Insurer for Failure to State a Claim and Complaint Did Not Set Out Bad Faith and Did Not Set Out the Kind Of Claim that Could Allow for Bad Faith Even Where There Was No Coverage Obligation (Middle District)
, November 13, 2013
In Bank of Am., N.A. v. Martin, plaintiff brought suit against the insurer alleging breach of contract and bad faith for its failure to pay plaintiff’s claim under its title insurance after an error was discovered in the title. The title in question was created when defendant landowners took...

District Court Reaffirms its Refusal to Find a Fiduciary Duty Between Surety and Policyholder (Western District)
, November 13, 2013
In Reginella Constr. Co. v. Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. of Am., the District Court refused to reopen its judgment dismissing plaintiff’s fiduciary-in-fact, tortious interference, and bad faith claims.

Products-Completed Operations Hazard Extends Only to Work by General Contractor; Damage Caused by Subcontractor Not Covered, Precluding Bad Faith Claim for Denial (Western District)
, November 13, 2013
In Allegheny Design Mgmt. v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Am., plaintiff, a general contractor, brought suit against its insurer after a scratch was discovered in the store-front glass at one of plaintiff’s project sites, and the insurer refused to cover the claim. The scratch was discovered...

Reversing on Breach of Contract Claims in the Insured’s Favor, Third Circuit Still Affirms Summary Judgment on Bad Faith Count for Failure to Meet Evidentiary Burden of Clear and Convincing Evidence, and that Suggestions from Expert Reports Alone are Not Sufficient to Establish Bad Faith Claim (Third Circuit)
, November 13, 2013
In U.S. Fire. Ins. Co. v. Kelman Bottles, the insured brought suit against its insurers for breach of contract after its claims for damages resulting from a glass melting furnace blow-up in its factory were denied. Defendant produces glass bottles, requiring it to store approximately 220 tons of...

Bad Faith Claim Time Barred by Two Year Statute of Limitations Despite Policy Statute of Limitations of Three Years; Time of Denial is Time when Statute Begins (Western District)
, November 08, 2013
In Sigal v. Gen. Am. Life Ins. Co., plaintiff brought suit alleging breach of contract and bad faith for two separate denials in 2005 and 2010 of his disability claims. Plaintiff, a surgical opthamologist, purchased three disability policies with “Own Occupation” riders from the insurer...

Court Finds No Bad Faith Where Insurer Delayed Settlement Pending Expert Report on Causation (Blair County)
, November 08, 2013
In Rhodes v. USAA Cas. Ins. Co., plaintiffs brought suit alleging the insurer had acted in bad faith by refusing to meet their settlement demand of $175,000 on their underinsured claim sooner than it did. To prove such a claim, the first prong of the bad faith statute (the insurer lacked a...

Court Holds "Extreme Delay" in Processing of Claim and Tender of Payment can Constitute Bad Faith under the Statute; Enters $2m Judgment against Insurer, including Punitive Damages and Attorneys' Fees (Lackawanna County)
, November 08, 2013
In Davis v. Fidelity Nat’l Ins. Co., plaintiffs brought suit against the insurer alleging breach of contract and bad faith for the insurer’s failure to settle its claim under a title insurance policy for five years. Plaintiffs owned a parcel of land on which they intended to build...

Insurer’s “Paid When Incurred” Disbursement of Funds Did Not Breach Contract; No Bad Faith (Philadelphia Federal)
, October 28, 2013
In Pellegrino v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., plaintiffs brought suit alleging the insurer’s practice of withholding funds for certain repairs as “paid when incurred” (PWI) was a breach of contract and constituted bad faith. Plaintiffs’ roof and siding were damaged in a...