United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
CERTAIN UNDERWRITERS at LLOYD'S, LONDON, Subscribing to Policies Numbered 8029663, 8001778, 8071754, 8072492, 8072737, and 8071620, Plaintiffs,
JEFF PETTIT, an individual, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment filed by Plaintiffs Certain Underwriters at
Lloyd's, London, Subscribing to Policies Numbered
8029663, 8001778, 8071754, 8072492, 8072737, and 8071620
(“Underwriters”). Dkt. #12. Plaintiffs seek
summary judgment dismissal of Defendant Jeff Pettit's
affirmative defenses related to preclusion (¶7.9),
statute of limitations (¶7.10), indemnity (¶7.11),
contribution (¶7.12), contributory negligence
(¶7.13), and service of process (¶7.14). Dkt. #12.
Defendant Jeff Pettit only opposes dismissal of the
contributory negligence affirmative defense, conceding
dismissal of the remainder. Dkt. #15. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion.
Plaintiffs seek only partial summary judgment, the Court will
limit discussion to those facts relevant to the requested
are pursuing subrogated claims in this case against Defendant
Pettit for property damage due to a marina fire. On February
21, 2014, a fire broke out at J Dock at the Shelter Bay
Marina in La Conner, Washington. Dkt. #1
(“Complaint”) at ¶¶ 3.1, 3.3. One of
the several recreational vessels destroyed by the fire was
the IN DECENT SEAS, owned by Pettit. Complaint at ¶ 3.1;
Dkt. #6 (“Answer”) at ¶ 7.5. Another of the
damaged vessels was the SHEAR JOY, owned by Bill and Myo
Shears (“the Shears”). Complaint at ¶ 3.1.
The two vessels were moored next to each other.
circumstances of the marina fire were previously presented to
the Court in the context of a claim for exoneration brought
by the Shears, which was decided in the Shears' favor on
summary judgment. See In re Complaint of Shears, No.
C14-1296RSM, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 258, at *15 (W.D. Wash.
Jan. 4, 2016). Prior to this Court's ruling, notice of
the Shears' Complaint was served on the owners of the
other vessels damaged in the fire, including Pettit, as well
as other potential claimants. See Dkt. #13-2.
Several boat owners (or their insurers) and the marina filed
claims in the limitation action. Dkt. #13 at ¶ 5. Those
who did not, including Pettit, were defaulted on December 9,
2014. Id. and Dkt. #13-3.
assert in this action that the fire was caused by
Pettit's negligence and the unseaworthiness of IN DECENT
SEAS. Complaint at ¶¶ 4.2-4.4, 5.2-5.4. Pettit
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.
Contributory Negligence Affirmative Defense
argue that Defendant Pettit is “precluded (by way of
collateral estoppel / issue preclusion) from offering as an
affirmative defense that the Shears' negligence caused
the fire” because he defaulted in the prior case and
because the Shears' negligence “was actually
litigated by other parties and this Court decided on summary
judgment that the Claimants could not prove the Shears were
negligent...” Dkt. #12 at 17-18.
Response, Pettit argues that claim and issue preclusion do
not apply to the default judgment entered against Mr. Pettit
in the Shears matter. Dkt. #15 at 1. Pettit also argues that
the issues of where the fire started, and what object was the
origin of the fire, were not ...