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PA Court: Jurors Know Bad Faith When They See It

June 28, 2013

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For the second time in less than a year, a federal court judge in Pennsylvania has precluded expert testimony on the issue of whether an insurance company is guilty of bad faith.  In <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i>Schifino v. Geico General Insurance</i></a>,<i> </i>Judge Terrance McVerry of the Western District granted motions <em>in limine</em> to preclude the testimony of insurance claim experts on the issue of bad faith.  Judge McVerry ruled that “a reasonable juror certainly possess the requisite knowledge to assess the bad faith allegation, which is equally neither complex nor scientific.”  Given that, he decided that an expert was not required and, in fact, allowing an expert to testify regarding bad faith would “usurp the jury’s fact-finding function”.
Judge McVerry relied on reasoning from a prior Western District case, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><i>Smith v. Allstate Insurance </i></a>from November, 2012.  In <i>Smith</i>, Judge Kim R. Gibson also barred testimony of a bad-faith expert.  Judge Gibson ruled that bad faith is a general legal concept, not requiring specialized, scientific or technical knowledge.  In fact, Judge McVerry in <i>Geico </i>cited language from <i>Smith </i>in his decision.  We expect that these rulings are likely to have strong precedential influence on Pennsylvania state courts in the coming future.
Thanks to Remy Cahn for her contribution to this post.  If you would like more information please write to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mike Bono</a>.


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