Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Appellate Division holds that decision to sever and stay 93A/176D claim from underlying claim is in trial judge's discretion

In Rodgriguez v. Alvelo, 2009 WL 2438328 (Mass. App. Div.) the Massachusetts Appellate Division affirmed a trial judge's decision not to sever a 93A claim against an insurer from the underlying action.

Following an automobile accident Rodriguez sued the driver of the car he was in for negligence and the driver's insurer, Premier, for breach of Mass. Gen. Laws 93A and 176D for failing to effectuate a prompt settlement.

Premier moved to sever the claim against it from the underlying claim, and to stay all discovery against it until the final disposition of the underlying claim. Insurers make such a motion in almost every case in which a bad faith claim is brought against it in the same lawsuit as the claim against the insured.

The trial judge denied the motion. At Premier's request, the judge reported the interlocutory finding the the Appellate Division.

The Appellate Division held that the denial of the motion to sever was within the discretion of the trial judge. The decision contains a lengthy discussion of the limited case law on the issue.

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