United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Tabitha
Williams' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Dkt. #9.
Defendant Foremost Insurance Company Grand Rapids Michigan
(“Foremost”) opposes this Motion. The Court has
determined that oral argument is unnecessary. For the reasons
below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion.
March 3, 2017, Ms. Williams purchased a house located at
18820 AP Tubbs Road E. in Carbonado, Washington. Dkt. #9 at
9; Dkt. #13-2 at 2. Around the same time, Ms. Williams
purchased a homeowner's insurance policy from Farmers
Insurance to cover this house. Dkt. #9 at 9. Prior to
purchase, Ms. Williams knew that the house was
“occupied, ” although the former owner had passed
away, but “did not know if the occupants were squatters
illegally occupying the house or if they were actual
tenants.” Id. at 9-10. Ms. Williams
subsequently visited the house and learned that the occupants
were not paying rent. Id. at 10. Ms. Williams hired
an attorney to send a letter to the occupants asking for
documentation showing they had a written rental agreement or
had paid rent. The occupants did not provide any such
evidence, so Ms. Williams commenced eviction proceedings in
Pierce County Superior Court. Id.; Dkt. #13-2. In
the eviction proceedings, the occupants stated via
declaration that they “are legal tenants, ” while
at the same time referring to being tenants of the prior
owner. Dkt. #13-3 at 4. The occupants presented no evidence
that they had a rental agreement with Ms. Williams.
occupants were ordered to leave by May 2, 2017 after filing a
stipulation. Dkt. #9 at 10; Dkt. #13-5. On May 3, 2017, Ms.
Williams inspected the house and found that “someone
had left the upstairs bath faucet running and clogged the
drain, which caused water to flood the entire house.”
Dkt. #9 at 10. Someone had also damaged the HVAC system
“by dumping cat litter and sawdust into the
vents.” Id. None of this damage was noticeable
in Ms. Williams' prior visit to the house. Ms. Williams
notified Farmers Insurance that day, making a claim of
vandalism. Id. At no time did the occupants pay rent
or enter into a rental agreement with Ms. Williams.
Foremost Insurance Company, on behalf of Farmers Insurance,
handled the claim. On May 17, 2017, Foremost informed Ms.
Williams via letter that “there is no coverage for your
claim based on the facts known to us at the present time as
tenant who vandalism [sic] a home is specifically excluded by
your policy.” Id. at 15. Foremost then stated
“[i]f you have any other evidence that clearly shows
these tenant [sic] where [sic] only living in the home a
short peroid [sic] of time and knew they had no legal right
to live in the home then please send that information in so
it can be reviewed.” Id.
Williams' insurance policy covers “[v]andalism or
malicious mischief, meaning the intentional and willful
damage or destruction of property by anyone other than the
owner of the property, ” but explicitly excludes
“[a]ny loss caused by, resulting from, contributed to
or aggravated by intentional acts of any tenant or any
roomers and boarders of your premises…” Dkt.
#13-2 at 14.
judgment is appropriate where “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). Material facts are those which
might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In ruling on summary
judgment, a court does not weigh evidence to determine the
truth of the matter, but “only determine[s] whether
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Crane v.
Conoco, Inc., 41 F.3d 547, 549 (9th Cir. 1994) (citing
Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. O'Melveny &
Meyers, 969 F.2d 744, 747 (9th Cir. 1992)).
motion for summary judgment, the court views the evidence and
draws inferences in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255;
Sullivan v. U.S. Dep't of the Navy, 365 F.3d
827, 832 (9th Cir. 2004). The Court must draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See
O'Melveny & Meyers, 969 F.2d at 747,
rev'd on other grounds, 512 U.S. 79 (1994).
However, the nonmoving party must make a “sufficient
showing on an essential element of her case with respect to
which she has the burden of proof” to survive summary
judgment. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323 (1986). Further, “[t]he mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's
position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on
which the jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251.
Williams brings this Motion for the Court to rule as a matter
of law that she was covered for the vandalism damage above
and that Foremost breached the insurance contract when it
denied coverage. Dkt. #9 at 1. Ms. Williams argues that she
has clearly met her burden of establishing that vandalism, a
covered loss, occurred. Id. at 6. She argues that
Foremost is unable to meet its burden of establishing that an
exclusion applies because “there is no evidence that