Saturday, January 7, 2017

"the trial court was appalled by Fidelity's conduct"


This is a portion of the document referred to in previous post.  (I bolded some interesting parts)

The degree of reprehensibility is the most important of the factors in assessing the appropriateness of punitive damages. Here, it can fairly be said, the trial court was appalled by Fidelity’s conduct.

The trial court found Fidelity was aware of both the delay it caused Davis and likely consequences thereof. Final Memorandum and Order, 3/28/2014, at 11.

In December 2007, shortly after Davis filed the claim, Fidelity notified Davis it was evaluating the claim and hoped to get back to him shortly. Memorandum and Order, 8/15/2013, Finding of Fact 14, at 4.7 Approximately one year later, Fidelity notified Davis that Norella may have a valid claim to the 1.86 acres. FF. 15, at 4. Six months later, 20 months after the claim had been filed, Fidelity accepted Davis’ claim and again stated it would contact Davis shortly regarding resolution of the claim. FF. 17, at 4. Fidelity waited another three months to hire counsel. FF. 18, at 4. Fidelity investigated the possibility of filing a quiet title action against Norella, but admitted there was scant chance of success. FF. 23, at 5. Nonetheless, Fidelity threatened Norella with filing the suit. CL. 22, at 14. By August 2010, counsel for Fidelity was warning Fidelity of the possibility of bad faith. FF. 24, at 5. Davis repeatedly made inquiry about the status of his claim. CL. 24, at 14. Fidelity breached its own contract by failing to act diligently, failing to pay the loss within 30 days of fixing the ____________________________________________ 7

 All citations to findings of facts (FF) or conclusions of law (CL) are taken from the August 15, 2013 Memorandum and Order. Additionally, the trial court did not issue omnibus findings of fact and conclusions of law, rather, they were broken down into sub-categories, not always specifically labeled as findings or conclusions. For ease we refer to all citations as either FF or CL. Rather than clutter this memo with sub-category titles, we will cite to the FF or CL number and the page on which it is found. J-A31019-14 - 12 - amount and failing to act in good faith and fair dealing. FF. 8, at 17. It failed to follow its own internal claims handling procedures. FF. 13, at 18. Fidelity violated 31 Pa. Code 146.6 and 146.5(c) regarding prompt investigations of claims and communications with clients, as well as Pennsylvania Statutes 40 P.S. 1171.5(a)(10)(ii),(v) regarding communications with clients and failure to affirm or deny claims promptly. FF. 15, 16, 17, at 18-19. Fidelity made no offer to either Norella or Davis until after Davis filed the instant bad faith claim. FF. 36, at 7. Indeed, it is difficult to find an area in which Fidelity acted in conformance with accepted statutory, regulatory or internal standards.