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Date: 03-30-2023

Case Style:

Danny Pedersen, et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Case Number: 4:19-CV-29

Judge: Brian Morris

Court: United States District Court for the District of Montana (Cascade County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Dale R. Cockrell, Jeremy A. Mosley, Hannah Sejfert McCalla

Description: Great Falls, Montana insurance law lawyer represented Plaintiffs who sued Defendant on a bad faith breach of insurance contract theory.

Plaintiffs Betty Radovich, Wanda Woodwick and decedents Robert Lindsay and Rebecca Nicholson (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) sustained injuries in separate automobile accidents while insured under automobile insurance policies issued by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”). The negligent party in each accident possessed insufficient liability coverage to compensate Plaintiffs fully for their damages. Plaintiffs' automobile insurance policies included liability coverage and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, but did not include underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Plaintiffs allege that their State Farm insurance agents acted negligently by failing to explain and offer UIM coverage to them. (Doc. 44.) Plaintiffs claim that they would have purchased UIM coverage if their insurance agents had offered it. Plaintiffs contend that their insurance agents breached their common law duty of reasonable care when they failed to explain and offer UIM coverage. Plaintiffs have asserted claims against State Farm for declaratory relief, negligence, professional negligence, deceit, common law bad faith, and actual malice. (Doc. 44 at 27-39.)

The Court determined previously that State Farm agents possessed the duty to explain and offer UIM coverage only if a State Farm agent shared a special relationship with an individual Plaintiff. (Doc. 69 at 11-18.) Absent establishing a special relationship between the State Farm agent and the insured, Plaintiffs would fail to demonstrate that State Farm was required to explain and offer UIM coverage. (Id.)

Plaintiffs have sought reconsideration of the Court's determination that an insurance agent does not have a standard duty to explain and offer UIM coverage. The Court denied Plaintiffs request. (Doc. 202 at 2-5.) Plaintiffs now seek to certify this question to the Montana Supreme Court. The Court will deny Plaintiffs motion for the reasons discussed in Part I of this order.

Plaintiffs also have moved the Court to compel State Farm's compliance with Plaintiffs' discovery requests. Plaintiffs seek to record a State Farm agent that did not sell automobile insurance to the Plaintiffs as that agent interfaces with the State Farm insurance software. (Docs. 179 & 227.) Plaintiffs' second motion seeks to compel compliance with numerous other requests. (Doc. 229.) The Court will deny Plaintiffs motions to compel compliance for the reasons discussed in Part II of this order.

Plaintiffs additionally have moved for leave to file a second amended complaint. The Court will deny Plaintiffs' motion for lack of good cause as discussed in Part III of this order.

State Farm's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 214) is ripe for review. The Court will grant State Farm's motion for the reasons discussed in Part IV of this order.

Plaintiffs motion to certify a class (Doc. 262) is denied as moot, as discussed in Part V of this order.

1. Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Questions of Substantive Law (Doc. 211) is DENIED;

2. Plaintiffs' Motions to Compel (Docs. 227 and 229) are DENIED;

3. Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 260) is DENIED, IN PART, AND GRANTED, IN PART. Plaintiffs' motion is denied in all respects except to allow substitution of Randy Tarum for Danny Pedersen as personal representative for Robert Lindsay's estate. In that respect, Plaintiffs' motion is construed as a motion to substitute for a proper party;

4. State Farm's motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 214) is GRANTED; and


5. Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class (Doc. 262) is DENIED AS MOOT. DATED this 27th day of June, 2022.

6. The Clerk of Court is directed to close this case.
Pedersen v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. (D. Mont. 2022)

03/30/2023 284 ORDER of USCA as to 272 Notice of Appeal, filed by Rosalie Kiernan, Betty L. Radovich, Robert L. Lindsay, Wanda Woodwick, Danny Pedersen. Appellants' motion for reconsideration of the court's February 1, 2023 order is denied. (MMS) (Entered: 03/30/2023)

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