• No Bad Faith Claim Stated Where Court Found No Duty to Pay Benefits; And Further Found that the Complaint Did Not Allege Sufficient Facts to Make Out A Bad Faith Claim Even Had it Ruled Otherwise on Coverage (Western District)
  • July 29, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fineman Krekstein Harris P.C. - Philadelphia Office
  • In Hackbarth v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, the insured fell while attempting to enter his car. The court found that ice caused the fall, and the vehicle was not an instrumentality of the injury. Thus, there was no coverage. Thus, it dismissed the insured’s breach of contract claim.

    As to the insured’s bad faith claim, while the Court seemed on the verge of wrestling with the argument that there could be bad faith in the absence of any duty to provide benefits, the insured ultimately conceded that if there was no breach of contract, there could be no bad faith.

    Moreover, even had the court ruled otherwise on the contract claim, it would still have dismissed the bad faith claim “because Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to aver sufficient facts which allow for drawing a reasonable inference that Defendant acted in bad faith when denying coverage under the Policy.” The court did not accept the argument that the pleadings were sufficient to allow further development via discovery. Rather, even accepting the alleged facts as true and disregarding legal conclusions, the insured did not allege sufficient facts to establish that the insurer lacked a reasonable basis for denying benefits and knew or recklessly disregarded its lack of reasonable basis.

    Date of Decision: July 8, 2014

    Hackbarth v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., Civil No. 13-1596, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92971 (W.D. Pa. July 8, 2014) (Cohill, J.)