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Babai v. Allstate Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 13, 2013

SHELMINA BABAI, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER

JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 27) and Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 38.). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby DENIES both motions.

I. BACKGROUND

During a remodel, Plaintiff Shelmina Babai discovered water damage to various areas of her home. (Dkt. No. 29.) She notified her insurer, Defendant Allstate Insurance Co. ("Allstate"), about the damage on January 26, 2012. (Dkt. No. 38 at 5 . ) An Allstate claims handler inspected the home on February 1, 2012, and denied her claim on the basis that the loss was "not 2017sudden and accidental' but rather a progressive loss." (Dkt. No. 30-4 at 3.) The denial letter cited the policy provision excluding coverage for "wear and tear, aging, marring, scratching, deterioration, inherent vice or latent defect" and "rust or other corrosion, mold, wet or dry rot." (Dkt. No. 27 at 2.)

Plaintiff hired counsel and Allstate sent another engineer to inspect her home. (Dkt. No. 30-4 at 8.) After this inspection, Allstate sent Plaintiff a letter stating that the damage had been repaired or obscured, which prevented the engineer from assessing it. ( Id. ) Allstate requested Plaintiff "specifically set forth exactly what damage is being claimed and what the alleged cause of loss is." ( Id. ) Plaintiffs counsel responded to this request, noting that he had answered the same question a month earlier and repeating that the claim was based on water damage throughout the house and to various wood structures. (Dkt. No. 30-4 at 10.)

Plaintiff originally sued in state court and Defendant removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1441(a). (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on December 17, 2012. (Dkt. No. 18.) She alleged that Defendant had breached the insurance contract, acted in bad faith, and violated both Washingtons Insurance Fair Conduct Act ("IFCA") and Consumer Protection Act ("CPA"). (Dkt. No. 18 at 6-7.) Defendant now moves for summary judgment on all claims; Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on her coverage claims and her IFCA claims.

II. DISCUSSION

A.Summary-Judgment Standard

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those that may affect the cases outcome. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if there is enough evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See id. at 49. At the summary judgment stage, evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in the nonmovants favor. See Johnson v. Poway Unified Sch. Dist. , 658 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir. 2011).

B.Consideration of Exhibits

In support of her submissions, Plaintiff has submitted two expert reports about the cause of the damage, a copy of Allstates "Deluxe Plus Homeowners Policy, " and an estimate from a construction company about the cost of repairing damage to Plaintiffs home. (Dkt. No. 30.) Defendant contends that these should be struck because "Plaintiff has failed to comply with any of the required disclosures under FRCP 26, " including by failing to identify witnesses, failing to identify documentation supporting the damages claim, and failing to provide expert disclosures. (Dkt. No. 42 at 1-2.) Defendant cites one specific fact, namely, that one of the expert reports is dated October 25, 2013, which is after the discovery cut-off, although before the date for expert disclosures. ( Id. ) Defendant provides no other basis for its assertion that Plaintiff failed to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. By contrast, Plaintiff gives specific dates and citations, which suggest that these materials did comply with the discovery schedule established by this Court. (Dkt. No. 41-4 at 48-52.) In the absence of any supporting factual assertions suggesting how Plaintiff failed to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, Defendants request to strike these documents is denied.

C. Liability under the insurance policy

This Court evaluates whether an insurance policy covers a loss by a two-step process. First, "[t]he insured must show the loss falls within the scope of the policys insured losses." McDonald v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. , 837 P.2d 1000, 1003-04 (1992). If the insured does so, then the insurer can avoid coverage only if it demonstrates that specific policy language excludes the loss. See id. at 1004.

Although Defendants initial denial stated that the loss was not "sudden and accidental, " (Dkt. No. 27-3 at 18), Defendant now appears to agree that Plaintiff has demonstrated that there was "sudden and accidental direct physical loss" to her insured home that falls within the policys scope. (Dkt. Nos. 27, 42 (arguing only that exclusions apply)). The question, then, is ...


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