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Prince v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

April 19, 2017

ARIKA PRINCE, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”)'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #22), and Plaintiff Arika Prince's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #26). For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion and DENIES Defendant's Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The parties agree that there are no issues of material fact in dispute. Dkt. #34 at 2. Plaintiff Arika Prince is an insured under State Farm policy 0062-165-47J. Dkt. #3-2. She was involved in a motor vehicle collision on September 11, 2011, and made a claim with State Farm for underinsured motorist benefits. Id. The parties were unable to resolve this claim and Ms. Prince eventually filed suit in King County Superior Court. On November 20, 2015, the state court entered a jury verdict judgment in favor of Ms. Prince for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) benefits in the amount of $13, 947.07, bearing interest at the rate of 12% per year. Dkt. #24-6. On November 24, 2015, State Farm issued a check for this amount payable to Arika Prince & Clausen Law Firm. Dkt. #24-7. Ms. Prince returned this check to State Farm's counsel in part because it did not include interest. It was then returned to Ms. Prince for a second time requesting that she explain the amount of interest she believed was owed. Dkt. #23-2. Eventually this check was cashed, representing satisfaction of the initial $13, 947.07 judgment amount. Dkt. #24 at 3.

         On December 15, 2015, after awarding attorney fees and costs to Prince, the state court entered an Amended Judgment against State Farm in the amount of $113, 375.02, bearing interest at the rate of 12% per year. Dkt. #27-4. State Farm did not immediately tender payment of the remaining balance due, which was $99, 427.95 plus interest. See Id. Instead, State Farm appealed the original and amended judgments. Dkts. #27-3 and #27-5.

         Under Washington court rules, the amended judgment amount could be enforced 14 days after entry-i.e., on December 30, 2015-in the absence of a stay. Wash. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 62(a).[1]

         On March 11, 2016, Ms. Prince obtained a writ of garnishment against State Farm's bank to collect the unpaid amended judgment amount. Dkt. #27-8. Ms. Prince incurred attorney fees and costs in the amount of $359.42 to obtain this writ of garnishment. Dkt. #27-9. Prior to this garnishment, Plaintiff's counsel had never contacted State Farm's counsel regarding payment of the outstanding judgment or her intent to file for the garnishment writ. Dkt. #23 at 2.

         Ms. Prince filed this action in King County Superior Court on March 10, 2016, with claims for insurance bad faith and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”). Dkt. #3-1.

         On April 11, 2016, State Farm filed a supersedeas bond in the amount of $120, 000, effectively securing the judgment and staying enforcement. Dkt. #25-2.

         On April 15, 2016, Ms. Prince served an Amended Complaint adding an IFCA claim. Dkt. #3-2. State Farm removed the case to this Court on April 18, 2016. Dkt. #1.

         On October 24, 2016, the Washington State Court of Appeals affirmed the state trial court's rulings. See Dkt. #27-11.

         On or about February 3, 2017, State Farm paid the balance of the Amended Judgment owed as well as interest and attorney fees and costs. Dkt. #23 at 2. State Farm has not ...


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