Legal News & Events
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held that “ill-will” or “self-interest” is not necessary for a policyholder to successfully sue an insurer for bad faith.
Justice Max Baer writes in Rancosky v. Washington Natural, “Additionally, we hold that proof of an insurance company’s motive of self-interest or ill-will is not a prerequisite to prevailing in a bad faith claim under Section 8371, as argued by Appellant. While such evidence is probative of the second Terletsky prong, we hold that evidence of the insurer’s knowledge or recklessness as to its lack of a reasonable basis in denying policy benefits is sufficient.”
The two prong test developed in the 1994 Superior Court opinion of Terletsky v. Prudential remains. A party suing an insurer must prove “(1) that the insurer did not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy and (2) that the insurer knew of or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis.”
For now, the precise effect of Rancosky is yet to be seen; however, what we know is that more plaintiff’s claims will survive motions for summary judgment. A significant win for the plaintiff’s bar, not so much for the defense.
The law’s stubbornness to bend with trends is not a flaw, but by design. It prevents unnecessary changes and ensures that an adjustment is truly needed. Consequently, the law often struggles to keep up with technology. For an example, look no further than Instagram. The application has become a major platform for advertising and copied content. This article by Scott Alan Burroughs highlights the law’s struggle to adapt…
See, Doing It For The Gram.
As reported in the Bar Reporter, seven candidates were elected to three-year terms to the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Executive Committee and will begin serving their terms on Jan. 1. They are:
- Robert H. Bender Jr.
- Eli H. Klein
- Negar M. Kordestani
- Hillary N. Lad
- Catelyn McDonough
- Stephanie Stecklair
- Andre J. Webb
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
While there is no substitution for visiting the scene of an accident, there are instances where the collection of information and data must begin quickly. Drone mapping is an evolving technology that is assisting numerous insurance companies in preserving key details that were once lost as a result of delay. This article explains the latest technology and its recent advancements.
Drone mapping provides insurance companies with an easy, fast and accurate method of documenting a scene and preserving key details while also letting the process of clean-up and reconstruction begin as quickly as possible. Recently, Dronotec, a start-up company specializing in drone inspection for insurance companies conducted a case study to determine just how much money this drone mapping was saving insurance companies. Dronotec’s founder, Emilien Rose, worked as a loss assessor in France and Australia for 10 years and conducted assessments of about 8,000 claims. Rose believes that Dronetec and drone mapping can really save time and money for insurers.
For example, recently a fire in France consumed 5 acres of a vacation destination on the coast. Once the insurance company came in to assess the damages, they realized that the sheer size of the site posed quite a challenge. Moreover, so much of the property was damaged by the fire, inspectors could not enter the properties or inspect the roofs without the threat of personal injury. A plane attempted to capture photos but many of the photos were not clear or sharp enough to use. However, the loss adjuster recommend a drone to do the mapping of the scene. In about 10 minutes, the drone collected more than 300 geo-tagged photos flying about 180 feet over the property. The images were uploaded to a drone mapping program, and three hours later a 2-D map and 3-D model of the property and the damages were available. The high degree of accuracy of not only the photos but the mapping improved the likelihood of identifying the cause of the accident exponentially. And the insurance company’s team members were able to collaborate and review the mapping in one cloud-based space. In this one case, the use of drone mapping saved this French insurance company about €99,985,000 (or about $110,600,000).
The ability to quickly process claims is very helpful to insurance companies with large scale disasters that have many claims filed related to the same incident.
Lawyers who want to pick through troves of public information that jurors or potential jurors put on the Internet about themselves may do so, but they may not communicate directly with the jurors, such as asking to “friend” them on Facebook, according to a formal ethics opinion issued by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professionalism.
Formal opinions are based on the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which have been adopted by all states except California. The rules are not binding but serve as models that can be adopted or modified. Formal Opinion 466 addresses three situations concerning lawyer review of the Internet footprints of jurors or potential jurors.
• Looking at information available to everyone on a juror’s social media accounts or website when the juror doesn’t know it’s being done. The opinion says the “mere act of observing” is not improper ex parte conduct, much as driving down a juror’s street to get a sense of his or her environs isn’t.
• Asking a juror for access to the his or her social media. The opinion says that is improper, much like stopping the car to ask the juror’s permission to look inside the juror’s house for a better view.
• When a juror finds out, through a notification feature of the social media platform or website, that the lawyer reviewed publicly available information. The formal opinion says the social media provider, not the lawyer, is communicating with the juror, the same as if a neighbor saw the lawyer’s car pass by and told the juror.
The PA Supreme Court recently shifted the world of products liability with its opinion in Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc. While scholars and attorneys continue to dissect the 137 page opinion, “what can be said immediately about this landmark decision is this: (1) the Court has not adopted the Third Restatement (although the Third Restatement is extensively discussed); (2) Azzarello v. Black Brothers Company (Pa 1978), which created Pennsylvania’s idiosyncratic version of Section 402A of the Second Restatement, has been overruled. BUT (3) there are many stated variables and contingencies that will have to be carefully evaluated and clearly will have significant consequences in pending and yet to be filed cases in Pennsylvania state and federal courts.” Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel member Bill Ricci.
This is a professional legal blog and I aim to operate it as such. Yet, there are exceptions to every rule and here is the place where one applies. The recent lapse in post, as well as changes that may occur moving forward call for an explanation. Here it is…
I married the love of my life on August 10, 2014. Very soon thereafter, I accepted an attorney position as a litigator practicing insurance defense at Baginski, Mezzanotte, Hasson, & Rubinate in Philadelphia, PA.
The change has been met with nonstop movement and a huge increase in responsibility. I mention this because naturally as I continue to increase my depth of knowledge in this new practice area a majority of my post may center around it. To do so without notice would be inapt.
Practicing in Philadelphia has been both exciting and overwhelming. On one hand, there is the ever-changing rules and practices of Pennsylvania courts and on the other, there is the thrill of walking into City Hall every other day. The two contrast – among many – balance out quite nicely. Nonetheless, the objective of this blog is to share everyday lessons learned by a young up and coming attorney. I plan to continue doing so only in a slightly different form. Be sure to follow…