Nader Eghtesad v. State Farm General Insurance Company
(Judgment for Breach of Contract Reversed as Trial Court Should Have Granted Leave to Amend Complaint For Bad Faith)
(August 2020) - In Eghtesad v. State Farm Gen. Ins. Co., 51 Cal.App.5th 406 (June 29, 2020), the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s entry of judgment in favor of State Farm General Insurance Company (“State Farm”) based on an order sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend regarding a complaint filed by Nader Eghtesad. Mr. Eghtesad, representing himself, filed a form complaint checking a box for breach of contract. The complaint alleged two paragraphs contending that State Farm had acted in bad faith and concealed benefits due under a policy issued to a former tenant who rented space in a building owned by Eghtesad. Eghtesad was an additional insured under the tenant’s policy. In that regard, the building was damaged during the time that the building was rented and Eghtesad tendered a claim under the State Farm policy contending that he was an additional insured pursuant to the terms of the lease with the tenant. According to Eghtesad, State Farm advised him that he could only make a claim for slander against the former tenant and that coverage was not afforded for his property damage claim.
After Eghtesad filed his form complaint, State Farm demurred to the complaint and argued that it did not state facts supporting a cause of action for breach of contract. Ultimately, the trial court agreed with State Farm and entered an order sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend, such that a judgment was entered in State Farm’s favor. Due to health reasons, Eghtesad was never able to file an opposition to the demurrer, despite two extensions of time provided by the trial court intended to allow Eghtesad time to retain counsel and to recover from injuries sustained as a result of an automobile accident.
In reversing the trial court’s entry of judgment, the Court of Appeal found that the complaint alleged sufficient facts, such that the trial court should have issued an order allowing time for Eghtesad to file an amended complaint. Essentially, the Court of Appeal found that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to allow Eghtesad to file an amended complaint alleging breach of contract, fraud, and bad faith.