By Charles E. Haddick Jr.
Special to the Legal
Recently, U.S. District Judge Thomas N. O’Neill Jr. of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed a bad faith claim against Allstate Insurance Co. arising out of a property damage claim made by plaintiffs Paul and Mary Ann Blasetti in the case of Blasetti v. Allstate.
O’Neill reviewed the claim’s brief history, noting that there was some discrepancy in the insureds’ reporting of the date of loss. He also wrote that the insureds undertook repairs of their structure before ever reporting the claim to Allstate. While O’Neill thought there were minimally sufficient allegations to allow the breach of contract claim to proceed past the motion for judgment on pleadings stage, he did not feel so inclined concerning the bad faith claim.
O’Neill noted that conclusory allegations are not entitled to an assumption of truth and are insufficient to support legal claims in federal court, citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court opinion. In looking at the plaintiffs’ bad faith allegations through this lens, O’Neill stated: “In asking that I deny defendant’s motion, plaintiffs would have me infer reckless indifference from the mere fact that Allstate denied their request for coverage. Plaintiffs do not provide sufficient factual allegations to suggest an absence of a reasonable basis on the part of Allstate for denying their request for coverage.”
In the wake of Iqbal, insurers may be more likely to obtain motions for dismissal under Federal Rule 12(b)(6) and/or motions for judgment on the pleadings by invoking scrutiny for the factual nature, or lack thereof, of a plaintiff’s allegations of bad faith.
Charles E. Haddick Jr. is a partner with Dickie McCamey & Chilcote. He welcomes feedback from readers, along with any suggestions for topics you would like to see discussed in this space. He can be reached at email@example.com.