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IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co. v. Crawford

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

April 16, 2014

IDS PROPERTY CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
MARILYN CRAWFORD, Defendant

For IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company, a Wisconsin corporation, Plaintiff: Gary Allan Western, John Michael Silk, Morgan Emmerton Smith, WILSON SMITH COCHRAN & DICKERSON, SEATTLE, WA.

For Marilyn Crawford, individually, Defendant: Joanne Henry, LEAD ATTORNEY, SLOAN, BOBRICK & OLDFIELD, UNIVERSITY PL, WA; Philip R. Sloan, LEAD ATTORNEY, SLOAN BOBRICK, UNIVERSITY PLACE, WA.

For Marilyn Crawford, individually, Counter Claimant: Joanne Henry, LEAD ATTORNEY, SLOAN, BOBRICK & OLDFIELD, UNIVERSITY PL, WA; Philip R. Sloan, LEAD ATTORNEY, SLOAN BOBRICK, UNIVERSITY PLACE, WA.

For IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company, a Wisconsin corporation, Counter Defendant: Gary Allan Western, John Michael Silk, Morgan Emmerton Smith, WILSON SMITH COCHRAN & DICKERSON, SEATTLE, WA.

OPINION

Page 1237

HONORABLE RONALD B. LEIGHTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

ORDER

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co.'s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #22) and Defendant Marilyn Crawford's cross-motion for partial summary judgment on her counterclaims (Dkt. #31). Crawford had both automobile and homeowner's insurance through IDS. After intentionally setting fire to her car and garage in an aborted suicide attempt, Crawford submitted claims under both policies. IDS denied coverage under the homeowner's policy for the damage that the fire and smoke caused to her house and personal property based on the policy's intentional loss exclusion. It then filed this action seeking a declaratory judgment that Crawford's homeowner's claim is not covered. Crawford denies the applicability of the intentional loss exclusion and counter-claimed, alleging that IDS failed to adequately investigate her claim before denying coverage.

I. Background

On October 31, 2011, Crawford tried to kill herself by setting her garage on fire. She parked her car in the garage, closed the garage door, poured gasoline all around and inside the car, got in, closed the door, started the car, and then lit a cigarette. The gasoline ignited, but once she felt the heat from the fire, she decided that she did not want to die. She got out of the car, ran to the garage door, which had bowed from the heat, and crawled to safety. Crawford escaped from the inferno, but the fire caused considerable damage to her house and personal property.

Page 1238

A detective for the Tacoma Police Department Arson Unit interviewed Crawford at the hospital the day of the fire. During that interview, Crawford told the detective that she had accidentally kicked over a gasoline can in her garage. She initially said that she had cleaned up the spill and that the fire started when she was smoking a cigarette in her car before running errands. She later said that she did not clean up the spill because she thought that it would dry on its own.

The detective re-interviewed Crawford the next day because her version of events was internally inconsistent and inconsistent with the nature of the fire. When confronted with those inconsistencies, Crawford admitted that she intentionally started the fire in a suicide attempt. She told the detective, " I poured gas all around outside of the car. I got some gas inside the car, and then sat in the car and closed the door. I started the car and lit a cigarette and there was fire everywhere. I heard it, felt the heat and said, what am I doing, what is wrong with me?" She then told the detective how she got out of the car, ran to the garage door, and crawled to safety.[1]

IDS received notice of the loss on November 5th, five days after the fire.[2] It hired a third-party adjuster to investigate the homeowner's claim two days later. During his investigation, the adjuster learned about the Police Department's investigation. He contacted the detective who had interviewed Crawford. The detective told the ...


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