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Camper v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

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

September 9, 2019

VANESSA CAMPER, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY and ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING STATE FARM'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING ALLSTATE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company's (“State Farm”) motion for partial summary judgment re: coverage, Dkt. 17, and Defendant Allstate Insurance Company's (“Allstate”) motion for summary judgment re: coverage, Dkt. 21. 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 State Farm's motion and grants Allstate's motion for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 16, 2018, Plaintiff Vanessa Camper (“Camper”) filed a complaint in Pierce County Superior Court for the State of Washington against State Farm and Allstate. Dkt. 1-2. Camper alleges that the insurance companies are liable for all damages associated with the flooding of her house on May 17, 2017. Id.

         On June 14, 2018, Allstate removed the matter to this Court. Dkt. 1.

         On June 19, 2019, State Farm and Allstate filed the instant motions for summary judgment. Dkts. 17, 21. On July 8, 2019, Camper responded. Dkts. 23, 27. On July 12, 2019, State Farm and Allstate replied. Dkts. 28, 30.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On the morning of May 17, 2017, Camper walked down the stairs of her home to the lower level and “walked right into water.” Dkt. 18-1 at 4. She could not find where the water was coming from, so she sought help from her neighbor. Dkt. 25, Declaration of Vanessa Camper (“Camper Decl.”), ¶¶ 5-6. They discovered that water was flowing down her driveway and into her garage. Id. ¶ 7. At some point, Camper discovered that the water was emanating from a broken pipe between the main water connection and her house. Camper contacted Allstate and Washington Restorer, a home restoration company. Id. ¶ 8. Washington Restorer sent its employee Maggie King (“King”) to Camper's house to appraise the damage and develop a remediation plan. Dkt. 26, ¶ 2.

         When King arrived at the house, the water had been turned off, but the source of the leak had not been identified. Id. ¶ 6. King asserts that the water heater was damaged and the electrical wiring in the house had been compromised by the flooding. Id. King opines that the house was uninhabitable because (1) there was no water, (2) the electrical system was compromised, (3) asbestos insulation had been damaged and needed to be removed, and (4) mold had started to form. Id. ¶ 7.

         Camper submitted the remediation plan and construction bids to Allstate, but Allstate denied coverage. Several weeks after the incident, Camper discovered that she also had a homeowner's policy with State Farm. Camper Decl., ¶ 13. Camper submitted a claim, and State Farm assigned adjustor Fred Long (“Long”) to the claim. Id. Initially, State Farm denied coverage, but it eventually provided some coverage for the damage. Id. ¶ 15. Although King told Camper that the home was uninhabitable, State Farm refused to compensate Camper for substitute housing. Id. ¶ 16. Camper claims that Long would not authorize remedial work until Camper paid to fix the broken pipe. Id. In September, Camper obtained funds to pay for the pipe repair. She then hired DrainTech Northwest to excavate and repair the water line. Id., Exh. A.

         On the date of the loss, Camper had a homeowner's insurance policy with State Farm. Dkt. 18-3. The relevant parts of the policy for the purposes of this motion are (1) the losses not insured provision and (2) the mitigation of losses provision. In the first provision, the policy states that State Farm will not cover loss to property that is caused by “wear, tear, marring, scratching, deterioration, inherent vice, latent defect or mechanical breakdown” or “mold, fungus or wet or dry rot.” Dkt. 19-1 at 8. The provision also states that State Farm does “not insure under any coverage for any loss consisting of the items” listed above. Id.

         Regarding the mitigation of losses provision, the policy states an insured's duties after a loss. Included in those duties is the duty to give immediate notice to State Farm and the duty to protect the property from further damage or loss. Id. at 9.

         On the date of the loss, Camper had a homeowner's policy with Allstate. Relevant to the instant motion, the policy covered losses resulting from a sudden and accidental escape of water or steam from a plumbing system within the dwelling. Dkt. 22-2 at 24- 25. The policy, however, excluded losses resulting from “[w]ater or any other substance on or below the surface of the ground, regardless of its source. This includes water or any other substance which exerts pressure on, or flows, seeps or leaks through any part of the residence premises.” Id. at 23.

         III. ...


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