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Marvin v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 10, 2015

STEPHEN MARVIN, an individual, Plaintiff,
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, a foreign insurer licensed to do business in the STATE OF WASHINGTON; CLAUDIO A. COPAT and


KAREN L. STROMBOM, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 19. For the reasons set forth below, that motion is GRANTED.


On July 30, 2012 Stephen Marvin met with Claudio Copat, an insurance agent for State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, to discuss obtaining insurance on a house Mr. Marvin recently purchased, a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado and four motorcycles. Mr. Copat emailed insurance quotes to Mr. Marvin on July 30, 2012. Dkt. 20-1.

On August 24, 2012 Mr. Marvin went to Mr. Copat's office to apply for insurance. Mr. Copat was not in, but one of his employees took the application and bound the risk on the house. Mr. Marvin also obtained a policy on the 2002 Silverado but did not obtain insurance for the four motorcycles. Dkt. 20-1, p. 3 (Declaration of Claudio Copat, dated February 19, 2014). Mr. Marvin paid the annual policy premium for both the homeowners and auto insurance policies. Dkt. 23. The homeowners policy, which had an effective date of August 27, 2012, provided dwelling coverage of up to $167, 000 and personal property loss of up to $125, 250 with a one percent deductible. Dkt. 23, p. 2.

Sometime in August 2012 Mr. Copat inspected and photographed Mr. Marvin's house. According to Mr. Copat, he "could see that the roof would not meet State Farm underwriting guidelines. The shingles were warped and had a lot of mildew." Dkt. 20-1, p. 3. These photos were taken as they had to be an attachment to the application sent to State Farm for their review and determination as to whether to accept or deny the risk. Dkt. 26-1, p. 12 (Deposition of Claudio Copat).

State Farm sent a cancellation letter dated October 18, 2012 (Dkt. 20-1, p.6) to Mr. Marvin which showed a cancellation date of December 9, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. The cancellation letter noted the following:

We cannot provide coverage because of the deficiencies in the physical condition of the property. Items specifically noted include:
- age and condition of the roof
- peeling paint on exterior siding and fascia

Mr. Marvin was urged to obtain insurance to prevent any lapse in coverage. He was also advised that a premium refund was being sent separately.

Following receipt of this letter, Mr. Marvin states that he attempted to contact Mr. Copat by phone "to discuss the cancellation, as well as my intention to address the roof and peeling paint so that the policy could remain in effect, but Copat did not quickly return my call." Dkt. 23, p. 2 (Declaration of Stephen Marvin dated March 2, 2015).

Mr. Marvin did contact Pemco Mutual Insurance agent, Joan Bonner, to discuss obtaining a homeowners insurance policy. Pemco provided a quote with a proposed policy period of 10/31/12 to 10/31/13. Dkt. 23, p. 13. In the October 31, 2012 email which had the quote attached, Ms. Bonner asked Mr. Marvin to "forward some photos of the roof and a photo of the back deck you mentioned that after cleaning was actually in good condition." Dkt. 26-1, p. 12. Ms. Bonner sent a subsequent email dated November 7, 2012 as a follow-up as she had apparently not heard back from Mr. Marvin. Dkt. 26-1, p. 3.

On November 9, 2012 Mr. Copat returned Mr. Marvin's phone call regarding the upcoming cancellation of the policy. According to Mr. Marvin, he "explained that I would be working on the roof in the spring of 2013, and painting the house in the summer of 2013, and that I received a quote from Pemco, but wanted to keep my homeowners insurance policy with State Farm because I also had an auto policy with State Farm. I wanted to keep all insurance policies with the same company." Dkt. 23, p. 3. Further, in his declaration Mr. Marvin testified that "Copat told me that the policy could remain in place before the work on the roof was done, but that the deductible would be increased from one percent of the dwelling coverage amount ($1, 670.00) to two percent (2%) of the dwelling coverage amount, or $3, 340.00 until the work on the roof was done. I told Copat that I accepted the revised policy terms." Dkt. 23-3.

In Mr. Marvin's Examination Under Oath, taken on July 18, 2013, defense counsel read the following November 9, 2012 entry from State Farm's underwriting file: "Policyholder looking at spring 2013 for new roof. Painting, summer 2013. Policyholder purchased in 2012. Would consider keeping with the contract or work order from roofing contractor and 2 percent deductible until the roof is replaced." (Dkt. 20-1, p. 28). On that date, July 18, 2013, Mr. Marvin agreed that this entry was consistent with his memory of what was discussed. He also agreed that he never provided a contract or work order with regard to the roof. Dkt. 20-1, p. 28. Mr. Copat testified in his deposition that he was the source of the information for the November 9th entry. Dkt. 26-1, p. 20-21. Mr. Copat agrees he did not contact Mr. Marvin after November 9th as he felt Mr. Marvin still had time to provide the documentation needed in order to continue coverage. Id. at p. 24.

Mr. Marvin also asked Mr. Copat what he should do with the check for the unearned portion of the premium. Mr. Copat told him he would check with State Farm and get back to Mr. Marvin. Mr. Marvin never heard back from Mr. Copat and he has not cashed the $396.84 check.[1]

Mr. Marvin testified in his declaration that he relied on Mr. Copat's representation that the policy would remain in place with the increased deductible until the roof was replaced and that he changed his course of action and did not pursue the homeowners quote from Pemco. Dkt. 23, p. 3.

Mr. Copat testified in his declaration that he met with Mr. Marvin in November. According to Mr. Copat he told Mr. Marvin "that based on my experience, underwriting would not reissue the policy unless he provided documentation from a licensed contractor stating either that the roof had a remaining life of at least five years, or that the contractor would replace the roof within 60 days." Dkt. 20-1, p. 3. Mr. Marvin advised Mr. Copat that he did not have money for the roof and that he would not obtain documentation from a contractor. Mr. Copat agreed, at Mr. Marvin's request, to contact underwriting to see if they would change their minds. Mr. Copat also told Mr. Marvin that unless he "received something from State Farm in writing stating that they were going to cover the risk, Mr. Marvin needed to move forward with the understanding that a cancellation was in place." Dkt. 20-1, p. 3-4. Mr. Copat did contact underwriting and they "would not reconsider the decision to cancel the policy without documentation from a licensed contractor indicating either that the roof had a remaining life of at least five years, or that ...

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