On September 29, 2011 the federal court in Craker v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 11-0225 (W.D. Pa. Lancaster C.J.) denied State Farm’s motion to sever and stay a case arising out of an underinsured (UIM) motorist claim. Clinton Craker was involved in an accident with an underinsured motorist. After not amicably resolving the UIM claim, he filed a state court court action against State Farm seeking UIM benefits and also alleging bad faith. State Farm removed the case to federal court and discovery ensued. Close to the discovery deadline, State Farm filed a Motion to Sever the UIM and Bad Faith Claims and also stay the bad faith claim until after the UIM case was decided.
The District Court for the Western District denies the Motion to Sever and Stay. Chief Judge Lancaster finds that the motion is not only impractical because it was filed late but also premature with regards to seeking a bifurcation. He also notes that the state court opinions cited by State Farm are not binding on the federal court and that State Farm "committed a strategic error by removing this case." The Motion to sever and stay is denied.
For a copy of the trial court opinion feel free to contact Scott Cooper at SchmidtKramer below.
Scott B. Cooper
Schmidt Kramer PC
209 State Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
(717) 232-6300 – Telephone
(717) 232-6467 – Facsimile