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Hoffman v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

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

January 23, 2017

MARK HOFFMAN and PATRICIA HOFFMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING THE PARTIES' MOTIONS FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company's (“State Farm”) motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. 19) and Mark and Patricia Hoffman's (“Hoffmans”) cross-motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. 20). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby denies the motions for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 22, 2015, the Hoffmans filed a complaint against State Farm and West Sound Property Management, LLC, d/b/a Windermere Property Management/West Sound (“West Sound”) in Kitsap County Superior Court for the State of Washington. Dkt. 1, ¶ 1. On December 18, 2015, the Hoffmans filed an amended complaint asserting causes of action against State Farm for breach of contract, bad faith, violations of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”), and violations of the Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) and against West Sound for intentional or negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and violations of the CPA. Dkt. 1-1, ¶¶ 4.1-4.2.

         On February 29, 2016, the state court granted State Farm's motion for summary judgment dismissing the Hoffmans' breach of contract claim. Dkt. 8-3 at 305-306. On June 13, 2016, the court denied State Farm's motion on the Hoffmans' remaining claims and the Hoffmans' cross-motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 8-8 at 205-206. On June 20, 2016, the court granted the parties' stipulated motion to dismiss West Sound. Id. at 208-209.

         On June 20, 2016, State Farm removed the matter to this Court. Dkt. 1.

         On November 11, 2016, State Farm refiled its motion for partial summary judgment on the Hoffmans' remaining claims. Dkt. 19. Despite some reorganization, the motion presents the same arguments that were rejected by the state court. Not to be outdone, on November 16, 2016, the Hoffmans refiled their cross-motion as well. Dkt. 20. With some modifications, the parties refiled their responses, Dkts. 23, 27, and their replies, Dkts. 25, 28.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Bites of the Apple

         The Hoffmans contend that “State Farm seeks a second bite at the summary judgment apple, ” Dkt. 23 at 2, and, if the Court entertains State Farm's bite, it should also entertain the Hoffmans' second bite, Dkt. 20 at 2. State Farm counters that case law “indicate[s] that the federal court, within its discretion and for ‘cogent' reasons, could grant summary judgment notwithstanding the earlier denial by the state court.” Preaseau v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 591 F.2d 74, 80 (9th Cir. 1979). State Farm asserts that the “state court did not have sufficient time or resources to give the motion the consideration it deserved.” Dkt. 25 at 12. Contrary to State Farm's assertion, any reasonable jurist that even briefly familiarized him or herself with the record would recognize that material questions of fact exist for trial. Accordingly, the Court will provide a slightly more than summary analysis of the parties' motions.

         B. Summary Judgment

         1. Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt”). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Conversely, a genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute, requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The determination of the existence of a material fact is often a close question. The Court must consider the substantive evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at trial - e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254; T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The Court must resolve any factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving party only when the facts specifically attested by that party contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party. The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the claim. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630 (relying on And ...


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