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Jenkins v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington Tacoma

February 22, 2018

TRINA JENKINS, et al., Plaintiffs,


          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant State Farm Automobile Insurance Company's (“State Farm”) motion for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 60. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion in part and denies it in part for the reasons stated herein.


         On July 23, 2015, Plaintiff Trina Jenkins (“Jenkins”) filed her complaint in this action. Dkt. 1. On February 23, 2016, Plaintiffs Jenkins, Charles Van Tassel (“Van Tassel”), and Jeremy Plank (“Plank) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed an amended complaint adding claims from Van Tassel and Plank. Dkt. 28. On August 16, 2016, the Court issued a scheduling order establishing deadlines for the disclosure of expert testimony, motions to exclude expert testimony, and motions for class certification. Dkt. 33. On October 14, 2016, Plaintiffs timely filed their disclosure of expert witnesses. Dkt. 34.

         On September 5, 2017, State Farm moved to exclude the testimony of Siskin and Toglia. Dkts. 42, 44. On September 6, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification. Dkt. 48. The Court has already entered an order denying State Farm's motions to exclude and denying Plaintiff's motion to certify. Dkt. 82.

         On October 10, 2017, State Farm also moved for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 60. On December 4, 2017, Plaintiffs responded. Dkt. 72. On January 3, 2017, State Farm replied and moved to strike Plaintiffs' response as untimely. Dkt. 78.


         A. Plaintiff Van Tassel's Claim

         On January 14, 2015, Plaintiff Van Tassel's vehicle was rear ended by an underinsured motorist. Dkt. 56-1 at 129. The same day, Plaintiff Van Tassel reported the accident to State Farm. Id. On January 30, 2015, Plaintiff Van Tassel informed State Farm that he “want[ed] diminished value” to be covered in his Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) claim. Id. at 133.

         As a result of the accident, Plaintiff Van Tassel's vehicle required over $16, 000 in repairs, which was paid for in part by the at-fault driver's insurance while the rest was paid for under Plaintiff Van Tassel's policy with State Farm for UIM coverage. Dkt. 56-1 at 129-30; Dkt. 49-22 at 4; Dkt. 49-23 at 8, 13; Dkt. 56-1 at 129. The repairs included body and frame repairs. Dkt. 49-23 at 3-5, 10.

         After the vehicle went through initial repairs, Plaintiff Van Tassel began to notice paint flakes on the repaired portion of the vehicle and a vibration while driving. Dkt. 56-1 at 13, 26. After these problems surfaced, Plaintiff Van Tassel requested that State Farm conduct an additional inspection to make sure there was no remaining unrepaired damage, but State Farm refused. Dkt. 49-22 at 6. While it is clear that State Farm handled Plaintiff Van Tassel's accident as a UIM claim, State Farm noted the record lacks any indication that he submitted a specific claim for diminished value with accompanying documentation.

         B. Plaintiff Plank's Claim

         On June 3, 2015, Plaintiff Plank was in a collision caused by an at-fault driver who turned into his lane of traffic in front of him. Dkt. 56-1 at 30. After the accident, Plaintiff Plank discussed diminished value coverage via phone call with the State Farm insurance agency where he obtained his policy, however he never discussed diminished value with a State Farm representative handling his claim. See Id. at 35. The at-fault driver's insurer handled Plaintiff Plank's claim, including approximately $19, 000 in repairs. Id. at 188.

         In a letter dated October 21, 2015, Plaintiff Plank informed State Farm of his pending settlement offer from the at-fault driver's insurer in the amount of the at-fault driver's policy limit. Dkt. 56-1 at 154. In the letter, Plaintiff Plank offered State Farm ten days in which to purchase Plaintiff's cause of action against the at-fault driver for the remaining sum under the applicable policy limit, “so as not to prejudice [State Farm's] right of subrogation.” Id. The letter also indicated that Plaintiff Plank would be making a UIM claim for the remaining balance of the diminished value of his vehicle after he received a response ...

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