United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ALEXANDER N. and AMY M. SOUSIE, Plaintiffs,
ALLSTATE INDEMNITY COMPANY, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Allstate Indemnity
Company's (“Allstate”) motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. 61) and Plaintiffs Alexander and Amy
Sousie's (“Sousies”) motion for partial
summary judgment (Dkt. 63). The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the
motions and the remainder of the file and hereby denies the
motions for the reasons stated herein.
January 4, 2017, the Sousies served the Washington Insurance
Commissioner with a complaint against Allstate. Dkt. 1-1. The
Sousies assert a cause of action for breach of their
insurance agreement and a violation of Washington's
Insurance Fair Conduct Act. Id.
February 16, 2018, Allstate filed a motion for summary
judgment. Dkt. 61. On February 22, 2018, the Sousies filed a
motion for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 63. On March 12,
2018, the parties responded. Dkts. 77, 80. On March 16, 2018,
the parties replied. Dkts. 82, 83.
Sousies previously lived in Maine with their five children.
Dkt. 64, ¶ 1. Mr. Sousie owned a business with his
father, Berry Sousie, that primarily sold and installed truck
canopies. Id. The business was called The Cap Place.
Id. In 2009, Berry Sousie suffered a stroke leaving
him partially paralyzed and unable to assist his son in
operation of the business. Id. ¶ 2.
economic downturn of 2008 combined with Berry Sousie's
stroke resulted in serious financial strain on the Sousies.
Id. ¶¶ 4-5. In April 2011, the Sousies
filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Id. ¶ 5. As
part of that proceeding, the Sousie were required to complete
certain forms regarding their assets. Relevant to the instant
matter, the Sousies completed a form disclosing their
personal property. Dkt. 64-1. They declared that they
possessed personal property worth a total of $3, 000 with no
single item worth more than $400. Id. Also relevant
to the instant matter, Mrs. Sousie declares that nothing on
any of the bankruptcy forms purported to require them to
disclose any “tools” in their
possession. Dkt. 64, ¶¶ 9-11. Eventually,
the bankruptcy court discharged the Sousies' debts and
terminated the proceeding.
2013, the Sousies moved to Washington to live with Mrs.
Sousie's parents. Prior to the move, Berry Sousie gave
the Sousies many tools, some of which were used in the
business and some of which Berry Sousie acquired for personal
use. Id. ¶ 13. The Sousies rented a storage
unit to store most of their personal property. Id.
September 2013, the Sousies purchased an insurance policy
from Allstate. The policy covered all personal property owned
or used by the Sousies. Dkt. 14-1. The policy excludes losses
“in which any insured person has concealed or
misrepresented any material fact or circumstance that exists
at the time of the loss or occurrence.” Id. at
26. The Sousies paid the yearly premiums for coverage through
the year 2016. Dkt. 64, ¶ 16.
January 7, 2016, an employee of the storage unit discovered
that someone had broken into the Sousies' unit.
Id. ¶ 21. The Sousies immediately went to the
unit and cooperated with police investigating the incident.
Id. ¶ 23. The police generated a report that
lists the Sousies' alleged stolen items and values as
follows: (1) large rollaway tool box with various automotive
and body shop tools - $25, 000, (2) Honda generator - $2,
500, (3) fishing equipment - $600, (4) computer equipment -
$1, 500, and (5) propane stove - $200. Dkt. 64-3.
Sousies notified their Allstate agent of the theft on the
same day. Allstate's claims adjuster provided the Sousies
with a spreadsheet to list the items that were stolen, the
age of each item, the original purchase price, and the
current cost to replace each item. Dkt. 64, ¶ 27. The
Sousies listed 167 items ranging in price from unknown to $3,
099.99 and in age from unknown to twelve years old. Dkt.
64-4. The total estimated replacement cost was $27, 297.90.
Sousie claims that in April or May 2017 Allstate employee
Peter Poulos contacted them regarding their claim. Mr. Poulos
sent the Sousies a document titled “Sworn Statement in
Proof of Loss.” Dkt. 64, ¶ 33. Mrs. Sousie asserts
that she did not understand the form and called Mr. Poulos
seeking guidance on how to complete the form. Id.
¶ 34. She declares that Mr. Poulos directed her to
insert certain numbers in blank spaces and, if she did so, he
would take the form to his supervisors to approve and pay the
claim. Id. ¶ 35. On the form, Mrs. Sousies
indicated that the Actual Cash Value of the stolen property
was $26, 565, the total amount of damages based on the
replacement cost value was $45, 660, and the amount claimed
was $45, 660. Dkt. 64-5. The Sousies subsequently learned
that these numbers were produced in a report that determined
the replacement cost value, depreciation value, and actual
cash value of the items based on the age and condition of the
items. See Dkt. 39-1.
23, 2016, Rick Wathen sent the Sousies a letter. He stated
that he represented Allstate and requested that the Sousies
sit for examinations under oath. Dkt. 64-6. Mr. Wathen also
requested that the Sousies produce documents relating to the
claim. Id. Mr. Wathen subsequently conducted both
examinations under oath. See,
e.g., Dkt. 62-3 (transcript of Mr.
September 26, 2016, Mr. Wathen sent the Sousies a letter
denying their claim. Dkt. 64-8. Allstate denied the claim
based on misrepresentation and concealment and lack of
ownership. I ...