United States District Court, E.D. Washington
JOHN and PATTY WINDER, husband and wife as assignees of ARIEL GRUBB, a single person, assignor, Plaintiffs,
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, a foreign insurer licensed to do business in the State of Washington, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
O. RICE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 11). This matter was submitted for consideration without
oral argument. The Court has reviewed the record and files
therein, and is fully informed. For the reasons discussed
below, the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 11) is GRANTED.
John Winder, Patty Winder, assignees of Ariel Grubb bring
this action against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
(State Farm) for bad faith, Insurance Fair Conduct Act
violation, breach of insurance contract, and Consumer
Protection Act violation. ECF No. 1-2 at ¶¶ 3-6.
Defendants move for summary judgment on all claims. ECF No.
following facts are not disputed. On November 9, 2012, Ariel
Grubb was involved in a motor vehicle accident when Ms. Grubb
struck Patty Winder while she was crossing the street in
Pullman, Washington. ECF Nos. 12 at ¶ 1; 19 at ¶ 6.
Ms. Grubb was driving a car owned by her father, David Grubb,
and insured by State Farm. ECF Nos. 12 at ¶ 3; 19 at
¶ 6. Mr. Grubb carried a personal liability umbrella
policy (PLUP) with State Farm. ECF Nos. 12 at ¶ 4; 19 at
¶ 12. State Farm opened a claim under the auto liability
policy on November 10, 2012, after receiving notice of the
accident. ECF Nos. 12 at ¶ 7; 19 at ¶ 8. In October
2014, as part of its coverage investigation, State Farm
reviewed if Ms. Grubb qualified as an insured under the PLUP
policy. ECF Nos. 12 at ¶ 14; 19 at ¶ 21. Under a
PLUP policy, an “insured” means “you and
your relatives whose primary residence is your
household.” ECF No. 12-2 at 6 (Ex. A).
November 14, 2015, Ms. Grubb confirmed that she used her
parents address for mail as she was moving around various
apartments while at veterinary school in Pullman, Washington.
ECF Nos. 12 at ¶ 21; 19 at ¶ 24; 12-4 at 2 (Ex. C).
She graduated from college in May 2008, lived with her
parents and in Portland for a year, and then started
veterinary school where she mainly supported herself with
student loans. Id. She graduated veterinary school
in May 2013 and moved to Portland. Id.
December 1, 2014, State Farm denied coverage to Ms. Grubb
under the PLUP policy. ECF No. 12-6 at 2-3 (Ex. E). In March
and April 2015, State Farm requested further information from
Ms. Grubb. She responded that from 2009 to 2013 she stayed at
the Valleyford, Washington address where her parents lived
during school breaks, part of the summer breaks, and would
visit on weekends. ECF Nos. 12 at ¶¶ 26-28; 19 at
¶¶ 27-29; 12-10 at 2 (Ex. I). She kept her
belongings at her parents' house while she was traveling
abroad and stayed there during her clinical year rotations.
Id. Ms. Grubb stated that she considered the Pullman
address as her primary residence and her Valleyford address
as her permanent legal residence. ECF No. 12-10 at 3. Her
parents helped support her by paying her car bills, health
insurance, and cell phone bills. ECF No. 12 at ¶ 29. She
financed her education and other living expenses with federal
loans. Id. Ms. Grubb's parents stated that she
was free to come and go, “provided she extended some
common courtesy about letting them know.” ECF Nos. 12
at ¶ 31; 19 at ¶ 31, 12-11 at 2 (Ex. J).
22, 2015, the Winders filed suit against Ms. Grubb and they
entered into a covenant judgment settlement. ECF Nos. 12 at
¶¶ 33-34; 19 at ¶¶ 32, 39. On September
16, 2016, a judgment was entered against Ms. Grubb in the
amount of $700, 000. ECF No. 19 at ¶ 40. This case was
filed on October 12, 2016 in Spokane County Superior Court.
ECF No. 1-2 at 2. On November 10, 2016, State Farm removed
the case to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. ECF No.
19 at ¶ 43.
judgment is appropriate when “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). For
purposes of summary judgment, a fact is
“material” if it might affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A material fact is
“genuine” where the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could find in favor of the non-moving party.
Id. The moving party bears the initial burden of
showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
The burden then shifts to the non-moving party to identify
specific facts showing there is a genuine issue of material
fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court views the
facts, as well as all rational inferences therefrom, in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). The court must only
consider admissible evidence. Orr v. Bank of America, NT
& SA, 285 F.3d 764 (9th Cir. 2002). There must be
evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff and a “mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be
insufficient.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Valleyford and Pullman Residences
Farm contends that it is clear Ms. Grubb's primary
residence was in Pullman, but Plaintiffs argue she primarily
resided at the Valleyford address. ECF Nos. 11 at 5; 20 at
10. In Washington, interpreting an insurance policy is a
question of law where the policy is construed as a whole.
Am. Star Ins. Co. v. Grice, 121 Wash.2d 869, 874
(1993), supplemented, 123 Wash.2d 131 (1994). The
court will not modify a contract if the policy language is
clear and unambiguous. Id. If the language is fairly
susceptible to two different reasonable interpretations, then
the court may apply extrinsic evidence to resolve
ambiguities. Id. at 874-75. If ambiguity remains,