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Gierke v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

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

October 1, 2019

ALIX GIERKE, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR OREGON CHOICE OF LAW

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company's (“Allstate”) motion asking the court to recognize that Oregon law controls the interpretation of the insurance policy at issue and the claims asserted in Plaintiff Alix Gierke's complaint. (See Mot. (Dkt. # 14); see also Compl. (Dkt. # 1-2).) Ms. Gierke opposes the motion. (See Resp. (Dkt. # 17).) The court has considered the motion, all submissions filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS the motion and applies Oregon law to this case.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The insurance policy at issue in this case is Allstate Policy No. 987990420 (“the Policy”), which Allstate issued to Ms. Gierke. (Wisbey Decl. (Dkt. # 15) ¶ 2, Ex. A (attaching a copy of the policy).) The Policy period is from April 12, 2017, through October 12, 2017. (Id. at 11.)[2] The Policy consists of: (1) Oregon Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company Auto Insurance Policy - AFA18; (2) Oregon Amendatory Endorsement - AU14223-6; and (3) Claim Satisfaction Guarantee Amendatory Endorsement - AP4878. (Id. at 14.) The Policy refers to Oregon and Oregon law in numerous provisions throughout.[3]

         The Policy contains the following choice-of-law provision:

What Law Will Apply
This policy is issued in accordance with the laws of Oregon and covers property or risks principally located in Oregon. Subject to the following paragraph, any and all claims or disputes in any way related to this policy shall be governed by the laws of Oregon.
If a covered loss to the auto, a covered auto accident, or any other occurrence for which coverage applies under this policy happens outside Oregon, claims or disputes regarding that covered loss to the auto, covered auto accident, or other covered occurrence may be governed by the laws of the jurisdiction in which that covered loss to the auto, covered auto accident, or other covered occurrence happened, only if the laws of that jurisdiction would apply in the absence of a contractual choice of law provision such as this.

(Id. at 21-22.)

         When Allstate initially issued automobile insurance to Ms. Gierke, she lived in Oregon. (See Gierke Decl. (Dkt. ## 18 (sealed), 22 (redacted)) ¶ 2.) In 2015, Ms. Gierke relocated to Seattle, Washington, and obtained a Washington State driver's license that same year. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 5.) She also began paying taxes as a Washington State resident in 2015. (Id. ¶ 4.)

         On April 21, 2017, during an exchange of email correspondence, Ms. Gierke informed her Allstate insurance agent that she no longer had an Oregon driver's license but rather a Washington driver's license. (Id. ¶ 7, Ex. 3 at 14.) Specifically, on April 21, 2017, Ms. Gierke's insurance agent wrote to her during the course of an email exchange: “Underwriting didn't process the renewal. I am working on getting it corrected. Just to verify, do you still have an Oregon license?” On the same day, Ms. Gierke responded: “Hi there, Thank you! Washington. I've included the photo - does that work?” (Gierke Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. 3 at 14.) Although Ms. Gierke indicates both in the referenced email exchange and in her declaration that she attached a copy of her Washington driver's license to the email, there is no indication in Exhibit 3 to her declaration-other than the quoted statement in her email-that the email chain contains an attachment of any sort. (See id. ¶ 7, Ex. 3.) Indeed, the Policy's amended declarations page recites that Allstate's “[i]nformation as of June 15, 2017, ” was that Ms. Gierke's mailing address remained in Beaverton, Oregon. (Wisby Decl. (Dkt. # 15) ¶ 2, Ex. A at 11.)

         On June 4, 2017, Ms. Gierke was driving her automobile near Seattle, Washington, when another driver rear-ended her vehicle causing damage. (See Gierke Decl. ¶¶ 1, 8; Carter Decl. (Dkt. ## 19 (sealed), 21 (redacted)) ¶ 2, Ex. 1 (attaching a copy of the police report).) The police report of the accident indicates that, despite moving to Seattle in 2015, Ms. Gierke never changed her vehicle's license from Oregon to Washington. (See Carter Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 1 at 3.) Thus, at the time of the accident, the insured vehicle continued to be licensed in Oregon. (See Wisbey Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. A (attaching a copy of the Policy identifying the insured vehicle).)

         Ms. Gierke alleges that on September 27, 2018, the liability carrier for the individual who rear-ended her vehicle offered the full liability policy limits of his insurance policy to resolve her claim. (Compl. ¶ 4.6.) She further alleges that this policy limits settlement failed to make her whole. (Id. ¶ 4.7.) Accordingly, she demanded that Allstate pay her the limits of the Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) coverage provided in the ...


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