United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, a foreign insurer, Plaintiff,
TERRY L. SCHMID and NOEL M. SCHMID, and their marital community, Washington residents, Defendants.
ORDER ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
B. LEIGHTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Dkt. #35], and in opposition, the
Defendants' Motion to Strike Hearsay Documents, Motion to
Stay Pending Resolution of the Appeal Before State Court of
Appeals [Dkt. #37], and Motion to Certify Question to the
Washington State Supreme Court [Dkt. #39]. The Court has
reviewed the materials for and against the motions and has
conducted oral argument. For the reasons that follow, the
Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED and each
of Defendants' Motions is DENIED.
April 4, 2012, Terry Schmid was involved in an automobile
accident with Robert Reynolds in Tacoma. On April 10, 2012,
Schmid was involved in another accident with Christopher
Foss, also in Tacoma.
had issued automobile liability insurance policy No. H517774
to Schmid and that policy was in effect at the time of each
accident. The Safeco Policy includes Underinsured Motorist
coverage (limited to $500, 000 per person and per accident).
2015, Schmid sued Reynolds in Pierce County Superior Court,
seeking a judgment against Reynolds for damages sustained by
Schmid in the First Accident. The liability limit of
Reynolds' automobile insurance policy was $25, 000 per
2015, Schmid sued Foss in Pierce County Superior Court,
seeking a judgment against Foss for damages he sustained in
the Second Accident. The liability limit of Foss's
automobile insurance policy was $250, 000 per person.
September 24, 2015, Safeco moved to intervene in the
underlying lawsuit against Foss. Schmid opposed the
intervention. Foss also opposed the motion. The court
reserved ruling, but ordered the parties to allow Safeco to
participate in all discovery. The court allowed Safeco to
renew its motion after ninety days.
September 29, 2015, Schmid sent Safeco a “Notice of
Intent to Arbitrate.” Safeco declined to arbitrate the
filed a second motion to intervene on February 3, 2016.
Schmid again opposed intervention. The court allowed Safeco
to intervene as a participant in the action. On March 28,
2016, the court consolidated the suit against Reynolds with
the suit against Foss.
January 26, 2017, Schmid filed a Motion to Transfer Case to
and Compel Binding Arbitration, Strike Trial Date and
Determine that Safeco Will Be Bound by an Arbitration Award
(“Motion to Compel Arbitration”). Safeco opposed
the motion. Reynolds did not oppose the motion. Foss joined
in the motion. The state trial court denied Schmid's
motion, ruling that Safeco could not be compelled to
participate in any arbitration agreed to by other parties,
and that neither Safeco nor Schmid would be bound by the
arbitration award in any subsequent litigation regarding the
same day, Schmid entered into a Stipulation with Reynolds and
Foss for final and binding arbitration of their disputes.
Schmid agreed to limit enforcement of any arbitration award
against either defendant to that defendant's automobile
liability policy limits ($25, 000 and $250, 000,
respectively). The parties agreed to withhold information
regarding this jurisdictional limit or waiver of damages
above policy limits, so that the Arbitrator would feel free
to award damages in excess of the limits.
the arbitration took place, Schmid settled his claim against
Reynolds for the injuries sustained in the First Accident,
released Reynolds, and Reynolds was dismissed from the
lawsuit. Reynolds paid Schmid $25, 000 in settlement.
29 and 30, 2017, Schmid and Foss arbitrated the tort claim
and the arbitrator awarded Schmid $378, 000. Foss paid Schmid
the $250, 000 to which Schmid was legally entitled. Foss also
paid the cost bill amount ...