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Commerce West Insurance Co. v. Allen

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 24, 2019

COMMERCE WEST INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE ALLEN, MARY ROE, Defendants.

          ORDER ON COMMERCE WEST INSURANCE COMPANY'S MOTION TO LIFT STAY ENTERED AT ECF 32

          Robert J. Bryan, United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Lift Stay Entered at ECF 32 (“Motion to Lift Stay”). Dkt. 33. The Court is familiar with the records and files herein and all documents filed in support of and in opposition to the motion.

         For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Lift Stay (Dkt. 33) should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 11, 2018, Plaintiff Commerce West Insurance Company (“Commerce West”) filed a complaint in this case seeking declaratory relief and an order that it has no duty to defend or indemnify Defendant George Allen (“Dr. Allen”) under a homeowners insurance policy with respect to the claims of Defendant Mary Roe (“Ms. Roe”) in the underlying civil case against Dr. Allen. Mary Roe v. George S. Allen, et. al., Circuit Court of Oregon for Multnomah County, No. 18CV23757, Second Amended Complaint for Sexual Assault and Battery; Medical Negligence; Medical Battery; and Negligence. Dkts. 1; 12-6; and 16. There is also an underlying criminal case pending against Dr. Allen. State of Oregon v. George Solomon Allen, Circuit Court of Oregon for Washington County, No. 18CR40525; Dkt. 16.

         In the instant case, on November 28, 2018, Commerce West filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 11. On December 17, 2018, Dr. Allen filed a motion to stay proceedings until resolution of the underlying civil and criminal cases. Dkt. 15.

         The Court granted, in part, and denied, in part, Dr. Allen's motion to stay proceedings. Dkt. 32. The Court held that a stay until judgment is entered in the underlying criminal case should be granted, and that a stay until resolution of the underlying civil case should not be granted. Dkt. 32. Additionally, the Court held that Commerce West's motion for summary judgment should be stricken, to be renoted, if appropriate, after the stay is lifted. Dkt. 32.

         On March 28, 2019, Commerce West filed the Motion to Lift Stay. Dkt. 33. Commerce West argues that the stay should be lifted because of three changes in circumstances:

1. The court in the underlying criminal case granted a motion to continue filed by Dr. Allen, rescheduling the trial date from April 23, 2019, to July 9, 2019; the order also notes that “NO FURTHER CONTINUANCES” are permitted. Dkt. 34-3 (emphasis in original).
2. On February 14, counsel for Ms. Roe mailed an allegedly time-limited demand letter to Commerce West “mak[ing] a clear and unequivocal demand for [a redacted amount of money] under Dr. Allen's Commerce West homeowner's insurance policy” “in connection with injuries she sustained as the result of an incident involving Dr. George Allen on July 21, 2016.” Dkt. 34-4.
3. Two additional civil lawsuits have been filed against Dr. Allen, for which Commerce West is now, under a reservation of rights, defending Dr. Allen. Dkt. 33, at 2-3; Gregory v. Allen and NU U Laser Centers, PLLC, Circuit Court of Oregon for Multnomah County, No. 18CV45179, First Amended Complaint (alleging Negligence, Medical Negligence, and Assault & Battery) (Dkt. 34-5); Okel v. Allen; NU U Laser Centers, PLLC; Northwest Asthma Allergy Center, P.C.; and George Allen Living Trust, Circuit Court of Oregon for Multnomah County, No. 19CV04712, Complaint (alleging Abuse of a Vulnerable Person, Battery, Assault, Negligence, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Fraudulent Conveyance) (Dkt. 34-6).

         Commerce West maintains that Dr. Allen's homeowners insurance policy “in no way covers the alleged sexual assaults or his alleged medical malpractice.” Dkt. 33, at 3. Commerce West argues that “Defendants Allen and Roe are taking advantage of this Court's issuance of a stay …. The Continued stay in the instant matter should be lifted because the stay is prejudicing Commerce West.” Dkt. 33, at 1. Commerce West also reiterates that the Court should have applied the Pipeline factors in its Order on Motion to Stay and Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 32).

         Defendants argue that the changes in circumstances described above do not warrant lifting the stay and that the Motion to Lift Stay amounts to a belated and untimely motion for reconsideration that should be denied. Dkts. 36; and 37.

         First, this opinion discusses Defendants' argument that the Motion to Lift Stay amounts to an untimely motion for reconsideration. Second, it discusses the Motion to Lift Stay on the merits. Third, the Court briefly discusses the applicability of the Pipeline factors. Finally, the Court presents its conclusions and issues its order on the Motion to Lift Stay.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION?

[LCR 7](h) Motions for Reconsideration
(1) Standard. Motions for reconsideration are disfavored. The court will ordinarily deny such motions in the absence of a showing of manifest error in the prior ruling or a showing of new facts or legal authority which could not have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable diligence.
(2) Procedure and Timing. A motion for reconsideration shall be plainly labeled as such. The motion shall be filed within fourteen days after the order to which it relates is filed. The motion shall be noted for consideration for the day it is filed. The motion shall point out with specificity the matters which the movant believes were overlooked or misapprehended by the court, any new matters being brought to the court's attention for the first time, and the particular modifications being sought in the court's prior ruling. Failure to comply with this ...

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