United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Megan Stone
(“Stone”) and Christine Carosi's
“Plaintiffs”) motion to remand (Dkt. 112). 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.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
was involved in a hit and run car accident on May 22, 2014.
Dkt. 3-2 ¶ 1.3. Stone had an automobile insurance policy
with Defendant Government Employees Insurance Company
(“GEICO”). Id. ¶ 2.1; Dkt. 12-1.
Stone was unable to use her car for about 105 days while
GEICO investigated her claim and while her car was being
repaired. Dkt. 3-2 ¶ 1.5.
17, 2015, Stone filed a class action complaint against GEICO
in Pierce County Superior Court. Id. Stone claims
GEICO failed to pay her for “loss of use”
damages. Id. ¶¶ 1.6-1.7. Stone sought to
certify the following class:
All GEICO insureds with Washington policies issued in
Washington State, where GEICO determined the loss to be
covered under the Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, and
their vehicle suffered a loss requiring repair, or the
vehicle was totaled, during which time they were without the
use of their vehicle, for a day or more.
Excluded from the Class are the assigned judge, the
judge's staff and family, GEICO employees, those who
received payment for substitute transportation from GEICO
during the entire period they were without the use of their
vehicle . . . .
Id. ¶¶ 5.3. Stone claimed there would be
about 5, 000 class members and the average damages would be
about $140 per class member. Id. ¶¶
3.2-3.3. Based on these numbers, Stone alleged the amount in
controversy would be at most $700, 000. Id. ¶
3.3. Stone asserted a single breach of contract claim, and
sought compensatory damages, injunctive and equitable relief,
and attorney's fees. Id. ¶¶ 6.1-6.5,
February 18, 2016, Stone deposed GEICO's Rule 30(b)(6)
designee, David Antonacci (“Antonacci”). Dkt.
9-3, Deposition of David Antonacci (“Antonacci
Dep.”). Antonacci testified that about 18, 000 GEICO
insureds had filed UIM claims during the class period in
Washington. Id. at 13:2-21. Antonacci further
testified that GEICO possessed information regarding the
average price it paid for rental cars during the class
period. Id. at 22:9-14, 39:24-40:21. These numbers
were produced in a supplemental response to a discovery
request showing that the average daily rate is approximately
$35/day. Dkt. 18-1 at 8.
10, 2016, Stone filed an amended complaint, which added
Carosi as a named plaintiff. Dkt. 1-2 (“Comp.”).
Carosi was involved in a rear-end collision while insured by
GEICO. Id. ¶ 1.6. Carosi was unable to use her
car for about 35 days while GEICO investigated her claim and
while her car was being repaired. Id. ¶¶
1.6, 1.8, 3.2. Plaintiffs' amended complaint contains the
same proposed class definition, class allegations, breach of
contract claim, and requests for relief. Compare
Dkt. 3-2, with Comp.
16, 2016, Plaintiffs moved for class certification. Dkt.
3-50. Plaintiffs sought to certify the same class pled in
their original complaint. Id. To support their
motion, Plaintiffs provided a declaration from their
statistician, Dr. Bernard Siskin, who explained how the
number of class members and the average damages per class
member could be determined. Dkt. 17-6, Declaration of Bernard
Siskin ¶¶ 4-5.
20, 2016, GEICO removed the action to this Court under the
Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(d). Dkt. 2-1. GEICO alleges the proposed class
may include as many as 22, 929 members and the average
damages may be $321.30 per class member. Id. at 4.
Based on these numbers, GEICO asserts there is potentially
$7, 367, 087.70 in controversy. Id.
14, 2016, Plaintiffs moved to remand. Dkt. 16. On July 28,
2016, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motion to remand.
Dkt. 35. On August 11, 2016, GEICO filed a motion for
reconsideration. Dkt. 41. On October 12, 2016, the Court
granted GEICO's motion, vacated its previous order, and
issued an amended order denying Plaintiffs' motion to
remand. Dkts. 50, 51.
the Court denied remand, the parties engaged in discovery
regarding the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. On
August 8, 2017, the Court granted GEICO's motion to
compel in part and denied it in part. Dkt. 115. In relevant
part, the Court concluded that Plaintiffs asserted a coverage
dispute and may be entitled to ...