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Kabrich v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

August 12, 2014

LINDA KABRICH, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY d/b/a ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY d/b/a ALLSTATE NORTHWEST PROPERTY, a foreign corporation licensed to do business in the State of Washington, Defendant.

ORDER RE CROSS MOTIONS

LONNY R. SUKO, Senior District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant Allstate Insurance Company's Motion for Summary Judgment Dismissal (ECF No. 122) and Plaintiff Linda Kabrich's Cross-Motion For Summary Judgment/Motion For Certification (ECF No. 135). The motions were heard with oral argument on July 24, 2014. J. Jay Carroll, Esq. argued for Plaintiff. Rory W. Leid, III, Esq., argued for Defendant.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts are largely undisputed in this case and have been set forth in the Order Re Defendant's Motion For Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 83), entered August 30, 2013, which motion sought to dismiss Plaintiff's Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) claim and Plaintiff's claim for attorney's fees. The Court concluded that matter finding it was unable to rule on the motion until the close of discovery. The Court found, however, that it could not be said that Plaintiff had been denied coverage based on the payment of benefits that had been made at that juncture.[1] The Court was unable to determine, though, which outstanding benefits claimed had not yet been paid. The Court further determined that Plaintiff had not provided sufficient information at that juncture to permit the Defendant to reasonably adjust her remaining claim(s). ECF No. 83 at 4. The Court is now tasked with ruling on all claims that remain pending.

II. UNDISPUTED FACTS

Ms. Kabrich brings this action against her homeowner insurer, Allstate, alleging that Allstate failed to fulfill its contractual obligations to her and acted unreasonably by denying her benefits.

A. The Policy

Allstate issued to Plaintiff a Renewal Deluxe Homeowners Policy ("Policy") for her home at 1416 S. 12th Avenue, Yakima, Washington, bearing policy number XXXXXXXXX, effective September 16, 2010 through September 16, 2011. ECF No. 144-1. The policy was in effect at the time of the freezing loss. Section 3 of the 2010 Policy states that Plaintiff[2] has a contractual duty to submit information regarding her claim:

3. What You Must Do After a Loss
In the event of a loss to any property that may be covered by this policy, you must:
* * *
c) separate damaged from undamaged personal property.

Give us a detailed list of the damaged, destroyed or stolen property, showing the quantity, cost, actual cash value and the amount of loss claimed.

* * *
f) as often as we reasonably require:
1) show us the damaged property.
* * *
g) within 60 days after the loss, give us a signed, sworn proof of the loss. This statement must include the following information:
1) the date, time, location and cause of loss;
2) the interest insured persons and others have in the property, including any encumbrances;
3) the actual cash value and amount of loss for each item damaged, destroyed or stolen;
* * *

ECF No. 144-1 at 17. (Emphasis added and in the original).

The Policy also set forth the insurer's settlement options in the event of a covered loss:

4. Our Settlement Options
In the event of a covered loss, we have the option to:
a) repair, rebuild or replace all or any part of the damaged, destroyed or stolen property with property of like kind and quality within a reasonable time; or
b) pay for all or any part of the damaged, destroyed or stolen property as described in Condition 5 "How We Pay For a Loss."
Within 30 days after we receive your signed, sworn proof of loss we will notify you of the option or options we intend to exercise [no punctuation in original]

ECF No. 144-1 at 17. (Emphasis in the original).

The applicable[3] Policy coverages and limits of liability are as follows:

Defendant Allstate has paid Plaintiff the Personal Property limits of liability in the amount of $109, 200 for contents and $5, 460 for debris removal, despite not having a completed inventory from the insured, Ms. Kabrich and despite numerous letters advising Plaintiff that Allstate needed a completed inventory.

B. Post-Damage Communications Between Plaintiff and Allstate

On May 11, 2011, Allstate sent Plaintiff the following communication stating:

I do regret that you have experienced damage to your property. I realize this is a difficult time fbr you and do appreciate your efforts in assisting me in the processing of your claim. In order to process your claim properly, we do need some additional information from you.
In order to assure a more accurate evaluation of your damaged items, please provide us with the following information: The approximate ages of the items destroyed and the approximate original cost of each item.
Enclosed please find the incomplete estimate which needs additional information. It will be important to provide as much information as possible in order for Allstate to properly evaluate your damaged contents. I have also included an example of a completed inventory form so you can see the type of information we are looking for. Ages are also needed for proper evaluation. I do understand you may not know the exact date. If you would like, you can use an average age for items in a particular category. Enclosed you will find a copy of an average age work sheet. You can use the worksheet if you like, or you can add the ages of each item individually.
Please let me know if there is anything that I can assist you with in the handling of your claim. You can reach me at (425)231-7360 or 1-800-597-9001 ext. 8557.

(ECF No. 72-1). (Emphasis added).

On May 18, 2011, Allstate sent another communication requesting Plaintiff's assistance in reviewing an inventory list provided by Rainbow International:

Recently, I received a copy of the list of destroyed or non-restorable contents items that resulted from the above referenced loss. This list was provided by Rainbow International. Allstate has started to input the information into our estimating system, and we need your assistance to make sure we accurately evaluate the damages.
I have enclosed a copy of the inventory list. Please review the items on the list and provide the approximate age of each item and the approximate original cost of the items. If you would prefer to apply an average age to the items based on category, you can do that. I have also enclosed an average age worksheet for your use if you would prefer.
Thank you for your help. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Id. (Emphasis added).

On June 17, 2011, Plaintiff hired TPI to, among other things, prepare an estimate of work necessary to repair the structural damage caused to her house by the water release, to inventory the contents of her home that were damaged and to clean those items of personal property that were salvageable. ECF No. 22 at 5. Allstate never ...


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