Florida Record

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Court: Bad faith claim against Safeco must wait until coverage dispute is resolved

Federal Court

By Marian Johns | Jul 27, 2019


FORT MYERS — A federal court has dismissed a bad faith claim against Safeco Insurance Company filed by a Florida man who suffered severe injuries in a 2018 car crash he alleges were covered under his policy. 

According to the July 1 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division filing, defendant Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois filed a motion to dismiss one of the claims in a three-count complaint filed by plaintiffs Robert Harry Diggory IV and Nancy Jaen McArdle. 

The suit stems from a 2018 car crash involving Diggory and McArdle that resulted in Diggory suffering "extensive injuries." Diggory argues three counts in his suit, which include uninsured motorist coverage, loss of consortium and bad faith. 

Safeco argues that the plaintiffs' bad faith claim can not be filed until he wins his suit for insurance benefits according to Florida law. Safeco also argues the bad faith count should be dismissed without prejudice "instead of abating until resolution of the underlying coverage dispute."

The court agreed with Safeco's argument, citing Florida statute and U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell concluding the bad faith claim "is not yet ripe" and "is contingent upon the plaintiffs prevailing."

Chappell granted the dismissal without prejudice of the bad faith claim against Safeco and instructed Diggory and McArdle to refile an amended complaint.

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U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

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