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Potter v. American Family Insurance

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

June 7, 2017

PATRICIA POTTER and WILLIAM H. POTTER, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN FAMILY INSURANCE, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant American Family Insurance's (“American Family”) motion to dismiss extra contractual claims (Dkt. 48). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby denies the motion for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 26, 2016, Plaintiffs Patricia and William Potter (“Potters”) filed a complaint against American Family asserting ten causes of action including bad faith insurance practices and violations of Washington's Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) and Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”). Dkt. 1.

         On April 20, 2017, American Family filed a motion to dismiss extra contractual claims. Dkt. 41. On May 8, 2017, the Potters responded. Dkt. 46. On May 12, 2017, American Family replied. Dkt. 48. On May 15, 2017, the Potters filed a surreply. Dkt. 50.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On June 1, 2014, Mrs. Potter was involved in an automobile accident. On June 4, 2015, the Potters' attorney submitted a claim to American Family. On August 31, 2015, American Family offered $46, 701.19 to settle the claim. The Potters declined the offer and requested arbitration. On February 29, 2016, the arbitrator awarded the Potters $130, 259.41. This action followed.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Strike

In one of many inaccurate statements made to the Court, American Family asserts that “[i]n response to American Family's motion, the Potters rely solely on the testimony of Robert Dietz.” Dkt. 48 at 9. Contrary to American Family's assertion, the Potters submitted over 80 pages of exhibits only some of which was Mr. Dietz's expert report. See Dkt. 47-1. Regardless, American Family moves to strike Mr. Dietz's report in its entirety because it includes improper conclusions of law. Dkt. 48 at 10-11. While American Family is correct that an expert may not provide legal opinions, an expert may opine on the subject of whether an insurance company's actions fell below industry standards even if those standards are state regulations. See Hangarter v. Provident Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 373 F.3d 998, 1017 (9th Cir. 2004) (“[the expert's] references to California statutory provisions-none of which were directly at issue in the case-were ancillary to the ultimate issue of bad faith.”). Therefore, the Court denies American Family's motion to strike Mr. Dietz's report.

         B. Motion to Dismiss

         As an initial matter on this motion, American Family fails to provide any standard of review to assist in the Court's evaluation of its motion. At this point of the proceeding, it is unusual to file a motion to dismiss because most dispositive motions are for judgment on the pleadings or for summary judgment. Because American Family submitted evidence in support of its motion and the Potters submitted evidence in support of their response, the Court will convert the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d).

         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 ...


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