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Stone v. Government Employees Insurance Co.

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

July 8, 2017

MEGAN STONE and CHRISTINE CAROSI, Plaintiffs,
v.
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant GEICO General Insurance Company's (“GEICO”) motion to compel production (Dkt. 87) and motion to compel compliance with subpoena (Dkt. 89) and the Court's request for additional briefing (Dkt. 104). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and denies in part the motions for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 17, 2015, Plaintiff Megan Stone (“Stone”) filed a class action complaint against multiple defendants in Pierce County Superior Court. Dkt. 3-2. In short, Stone alleged that GEICO failed to pay loss of use (“LOU”) damages in connection with an underinsured motorist (“UIM”) claim. Id.

         On August 3, 2015, GEICO moved to dismiss Stone's complaint on multiple grounds. Dkt. 3-13. Relevant to the instant motions, GEICO argued that “Stone's Complaint fails to allege a basis for her claimed ‘entitlement' to LOU benefits under the UIM coverage of auto insurance policies issued by the GEICO defendants.” Id. at 8. In response, Stone argued that GEICO not only improperly cited unpublished opinions to support its arguments, but also failed to rely on the actual language in its policy, which differs from the language considered in the cited authorities. Dkt. 3-21 at 7-11. On August 21, 2015, the state court summarily denied GEICO's motion stating in part that, “[f]or purposes of [court rule] 12(b)(6), defendants motion as to its insuring agreement coverage is denied.” Dkt. 3-24 at 1.

         On May 10, 2016, Stone filed an amended complaint, which added Plaintiff Christine Carosi (“Carosi”) as a named plaintiff. Dkt. 1-2. On May 20, 2016, Defendants removed the matter to this Court. Dkt. 1. On May 27, 2016, Defendants answered the amended complaint. Dkt. 13.

         On June 14, 2016, Plaintiffs Stone and Carosi (“Plaintiffs”) moved to remand. Dkt. 16. On October 12, 2016, the Court denied the motion stating in part that subject matter jurisdiction may always be challenged. Dkt. 51.

         On March 15, 2017, GEICO served Plaintiffs with discovery requests regarding the amount of attorney's fees Plaintiffs' attorneys have recovered in similar class action cases, Dkt. 88, Exh. 1, and served a subpoena on Plaintiffs' attorney Stephen Hanson requesting similar documents as well as records of billings in this case, Dkt. 90, Exh. 2. Plaintiffs objected to both requests. On May 4, 2017, GEICO filed the instant motions because the parties were unable to resolve the dispute themselves. Dkts. 87, 89. On May 15, 2017, Plaintiffs responded to the motion to compel production. Dkt. 91. On May 19, 2017, GEICO replied. Dkts. 93, 94.[1] On May 23, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a surreply. Dkt. 100.

         On June 7, 2017, the Court requested additional briefing because the relevance of the information may turn upon interpretation of the operative complaint. Dkt. 104. On June 16, 2017, the parties filed supplemental opening briefs. Dkts. 106, 107. On June 23, 2017, the parties filed supplemental response briefs. Dkts. 110, 111.

         II. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiffs allege that both were covered by a GEICO insurance policy and were involved in separate accidents with uninsured motorists. Dkt. 1-2, ¶¶ 1.3, 1.6. They also allege that they were without the use of their vehicles for periods of time between when the accidents occurred until their vehicles were repaired. Id. ¶¶ 1.5, 1.8.

Plaintiffs allege that the damages for loss of use is a benefit that they are “legally entitled to” recover under the law, and a benefit that is covered, and not excluded by the GEICO policy. However, GEICO failed to authorize, adjust, or pay for this type of loss under its standard Washington insurance policy's UIM coverage. By failing to pay for the loss that Plaintiffs and other policyholders incurred, GEICO has breached its contract with them.

Id. ¶ 1.11. In their answer, GEICO “denies each and every allegation contained in Paragraph 1.11 of the Complaint.” Dkt. 13, ¶ 1.11.

         III. ...


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