The Maryland Court of Special Appeals decided on Thompson v. State Farm, a bad faith claim against State Farm that arose out of a car accident in Millersville, Maryland in Anne Arundel County. At issue is a common battleground in Maryland car accident cases: venue. A regular issue that is usually, but not always, decided in favor of; however, the trial judge sees it.
State Farm won the case, and the CSA sided with the trial judge. This was, however, anything but a garden variety venue case. This case involved an appeal of a Maryland Insurance Administration finding that State Farm had not committed bad faith, which made the venue issue that much more complex. As I talk about below, the court gets into the two bad faith statutes and begins what I don’t suspect will be the first appellate effort to sort through them.
Plaintiff’s lawyer was the well respected Debbie Potter from the Jaklitsch Law Group. Debbie was doing what excellent accident lawyers do, trying to get venue in a favorable jurisdiction.
Her argument was that venue was proper in Baltimore City because State Farm does business in Baltimore City and State Farm could not point to anyone who would be inconvenienced by deferring to the Plaintiff’s choice of venue. (Liability for the car accident was not in dispute so, arguably, the location of the accident or the domicile of the at-fault driver should not enter the calculus.)
In fact, for any bad faith case against State Farm, any State Farm witnesses would likely come from Owings Mills (where State Farm houses its adjusters). Obviously, the argument goes, Annapolis is further from Owings Mills than Baltimore City. Continue reading