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Queen Anne Park Homeowners Ass'n v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co.

Supreme Court of Washington

June 18, 2015

Certification From the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Queen Anne Park Homeowners Association, Appellant ,
v.
State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, Appellee

Argued February 24, 2015

Gregory L. Harper and Todd C. Hayes (of Harper│ Hayes PLLC), for appellant.

Joseph D. Hampton and Daniel L. Syhre (of Betts Patterson & Mines PS ); and Pamela A. Okano (of Reed McClure ), for appellee.

James T. Derrig on behalf of American Insurance Association, amicus curiae.

Devon M. Thurtle Anderson and Monica K. Sham on behalf of Bayview Heights Owners Association, amicus curiae.

Phillip E. Joseph and Kyle A. Sturm on behalf of Community Association Partners LLC and Bluestone and Hockley Real Estate Services, amici curiae.

AUTHOR: Justice Steven C. González. WE CONCUR: Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Debra L. Stephens, Justice Charles K. Wiggins, Justice Mary I. Yu. AUTHOR: Justice Mary E. Fairhurst. WE CONCUR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud.

OPINION

Page 791

González, J.

[¶1] [183 Wn.2d 487]  -- The Ninth Circuit has asked this court to answer:

What does " collapse" mean under Washington law in an insurance policy that insures " accidental direct physical loss involving collapse," subject to the policy's terms, conditions, exclusions, and other provisions, but does not define " collapse," except to state that " collapse does not include settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging or expansion?"

Queen Anne Park Homeowners Ass'n v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 763 F.3d 1232, 1235 (9th Cir. 2014). Rather than adopt a fixed definition of " collapse" for all insurance contracts, we apply Washington law to interpret the ambiguous term " collapse" in the insurance contract before the Ninth Circuit. We conclude that in the insurance contract, " collapse" means " substantial impairment of structural integrity." " Substantial impairment of structural integrity" means substantial impairment of the structural integrity of a building or part of a building that renders such building or part of a building unfit for its function or unsafe and, under the clear

Page 792

language of the insurance policy here, must be more than mere settling, cracking, ...


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