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Homesite Insurance Company of Midwest v. Walker

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

August 27, 2019

HOMESITE INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE MIDWEST, Plaintiff,
v.
DANNY L. WALKER, KIM M. WALKER, and L.D., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Benjamin H. Settle United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Homesite Insurance Company of the Midwest's (“Homesite”) motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 23. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and denies in part the motion for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY

         On September 10, 2017, Geico Insurance Agency, Inc. issued Danny and Kim Walker (“the Walkers”) a homeowners insurance policy underwritten by Homesite (“the policy”). Dkt. 1-2. The policy period began on September 7, 2017, and ended on September 8, 2018. Dkt. 1-2 at 4.

         A. The Underlying Lawsuit

         On May 25, 2018, James Dunn (“Dunn”) and his minor child L.D. (collectively “the Dunns”) filed suit against the Walkers in Kitsap County Superior Court for the State of Washington claiming outrage and negligent supervision and care. Dkt. 1-1, ¶ 4.2. The Dunns alleged that while she was a minor, L.D. was sexually abused on multiple occasions by R.M., a minor child in the legal custody of the Walkers. Id. ¶ 3.1. The abuse occurred between 2014 and 2018. Id. The Walkers are L.D.'s grandparents, and the Dunns argue that she stayed at their home when the material events occurred. Dkt. 24 at 2.

         The Dunns alleged that the Walkers knew or should have known of R.M.'s propensity to commit the acts alleged and breached their duty to protect L.D. and that the Walkers' actions and inactions “made it more difficult for Plaintiff L.D. to make any complaint about the sexual abuse or to protect herself from said abuse, and further . . . contributed to the occurrence of sexual abuse.” Dkt. 1-1, ¶ 3.1 The Dunns alleged that the Walkers' actions and inactions caused them physical and emotional injury requiring medical treatment, as well as pain and suffering. Id. ¶¶ 3.2-5.4.

         The Walkers tendered defense to Homesite. Dkt. 1-3 at 2. On October 19, 2018, Homesite sent the Walkers a letter agreeing to defend them under a reservation of rights. Id. In the letter, Homesite set out its view that the policy did not provide coverage for the claims in the underlying lawsuit, explaining in relevant part that coverage was only available for accidents and for unintentional acts by an insured, both of which precluded coverage for sexual abuse. Dkt. 1-3 at 5. On October 30, 2018, Homesite filed the instant complaint against the Walkers, L.D., and Dunn requesting a declaration that it owes no duty to defend or indemnify the Walkers in the underlying lawsuit. Dkt. 1.

         On February 15, 2019, the Dunns filed an amended complaint in the underlying lawsuit. Dkt. 19-1. The complaint removed Dunn as a plaintiff and added additional facts explaining that the Walkers, as the only adults supervising L.D., had breached their duty to ensure L.D. received appropriate medical and/or psychological care. Specifically, the complaint alleges as follows:

During plaintiff's childhood she was sexually abused on multiple occasions, between the years 2014 and 2018 by R.M. Defendants Danny and Kim Walker, are the legal guardian of R.M. Defendants Danny and Kim Walker knew or should have known of the propensity of Defendant R.M. for the behavior complained of herein, and had a duty to protect minor Plaintiff L.D. from sexual abuse harm, which they failed to do. Defendants Danny Walker and Kim Walker, by their actions and inactions, made it more difficult for Plaintiff L.D. to make any complaint about the sexual abuse or to protect herself from sexual abuse; further defendants, by their actions and inactions, contributed to the occurrence of sexual abuse.
As a direct and proximate result of the actions and inactions of defendants Danny Walker and Kim Walker, plaintiff, L.D. has damages in an amount to be proven at the time of trial.
At material times L.D. stayed with defendants when they were the only adults with supervisory responsibility. This gives rise to a special relationship between defendants and L.D. which gives rise to supervisory responsibility which includes but is not limited to the duty to insure L.D. receives necessary medical and/or psychological care.
Following the sexual abuse of plaintiff by R.M., L.D. over a period of time developed anxiety, distress, impairment in family and childhood activities and other important areas of functioning.
Following the sexual abuse of plaintiff by R.M. reasonable grandparents should foresee the possibility of psychological harm and the need for psychological therapy and counseling for L.D.
The psychological changes to L.D. as set forth in Paragraph 3.4 were reasonable given the period of time after the sexual abuse, and L.D. needed psychological therapy and counseling to address the psychological changes set forth in Paragraph 3.4.
The psychological changes to L.D. were unintended by defendants Danny and Kim Walker. Nevertheless, defendants Walker failed to assist in getting L.D. necessary psychological treatment to address her developing psychological injuries.
L.D. developed objective psychological symptomatology as a result of the failure of defendants Danny and Kim Walker to assist in getting L.D. necessary treatment to address the psychological changes set forth in Paragraph 3.4.
Defendants Danny and Kim Walker had a duty to foresee the possibility of the psychological injuries to L.D. set forth at Paragraph 3.4. This is because of the "special relationship" between defendants and L.D. which give rise to supervisory ...

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