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Glaspie v. American Modern Select Insurance Co.

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

July 2, 2019

TOM GLASPIE, an individual; and SK1, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN MODERN SELECT INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign insurer, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT AMERICAN MODERN SELECT INSURANCE COMPANY'S MOTION SEEKING BIFURCATION AND STAY OF BAD FAITH AND EXTRA-CONTRACTUAL DISCOVERY

          ROBERT J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant American Modern Select Insurance Company's (“American Modern”) Motion Seeking Bifurcation and Stay of Bad Faith and Extra-Contractual Discovery (“Motion to Bifurcate”). Dkt. 25. The court is fully apprised and has considered the motion, documents filed in support and opposition thereto, and the remaining record herein.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court should deny American Modern's Motion to Bifurcate (Dkt. 25).

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case is an insurance coverage dispute. Dkt. 1 Plaintiffs have also brought a claim under the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”), which allows an insured who has been unreasonably denied a claim for coverage or payment due under an insurance policy to recover additional damages and fees. Dkt. 1; RCW 48.30.015.

         American Modern issued a policy insuring Plaintiff's duplex. Dkt. 14-3. Apparently, wind damaged the roof, allowing rain to enter and damage the duplex. Plaintiffs allege that they “incurred an expense of $25, 947.43 to protect [the] property against further loss, $98.457.73 to repair the rain damage to the property, and $26, 229.46 to install improvements to undamaged portions of the duplex in order to bring the property up to current code[, and] $21, 850.00 in lost rental income ” Dkt. 30, at 2.

         American Modern apparently agreed that the loss was covered by the policy, but that it was subject to a $20, 000.00 water damage sublimit under the policy. Dkt. 14-35. American Modern paid Plaintiffs $20, 000.00. Plaintiffs believe coverage is not limited by the $20, 000.00 sublimit and argue additional coverage under the policy is owed by American Modern.

         Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court, removed by American Modern to this Court. Dkt. 1.

         On May 16, 2019, American Modern filed the instant Motion to Bifurcate. Dkt. 25. On June 17, 2019, Plaintiffs responded in opposition to the instant Motion to Bifurcate. Dkt. 30. On June 21, 2019, American Modern replied in support of its instant Motion to Bifurcate. Dkt. 32.

         II. DISCUSSION

         a. REQUEST TO BIFURCATE

         American Modern “requests that this court bifurcate the insurance contract coverage issues in this lawsuit from the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct (‘IFCA') claim brought by Plaintiffs Tom Glaspie and SKI, LLC, and that it stay discovery and trial on the IFCA claim until resolution of the coverage issues.” Dkt. 25, 1.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide, in part:

Separate Trials. For convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize, the court may order a separate trial of one or more separate issues, claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, or third-party claims. When ordering a separate trial, the ...

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