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Hulse v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

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

October 5, 2019

DEBBIE E. HULSE, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, a Foreign Corporation, and ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, a Foreign Corporation, Defendants.

          KELLER ROHRBACK L.L.P. IRENE M. HECHT, MAUREEN M. FALECKI, ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY

          DONCHEZ LAW FIRM BY JEFFREY J. DONCHEZ, MERCEDES M. DONCHEZ, ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF

          STIPULATED MOTION AND ORDER ON STIPULATED MOTION TO BIFURCATE AND STAY PLAINTIFF'S EXTRA-CONTRACTUAL CLAIMS

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. RELIEF REQUESTED

         Plaintiff Debbie Hulse and defendants State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) and Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”), through their respective attorneys of record, stipulate to and ask the Court to enter an order bifurcating and staying discovery and trial of plaintiff's claims for breach of contract, alleged bad faith, negligence, and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) and the Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) (hereafter collectively referred to as “extra contractual claims”) asserted against both State Farm and Allstate in connection with the handling of plaintiff's underinsured motorist (“UIM”) claims, until plaintiff's claims for UIM benefits under the State Farm and Allstate policies, for an auto accident that occurred on August 18, 2013, have been resolved.

         II. FACTS

         Plaintiff Debbie Hulse was involved in an auto accident on August 18, 2013, while driving a vehicle owned by her daughter, Krystina Hulse. The vehicle plaintiff was driving was struck in the rear by a vehicle driven by Kayla M. Henderson, whose negligence was the sole cause of the accident. State Farm issued an automobile insurance policy that insured the vehicle Debbie Hulse was driving at the time of the accident; it provides coverage for plaintiff Debbie E. Hulse for the August 18, 2013 accident, including UIM coverage with limits of $100, 000 per person for bodily injury, and personal injury protection (“PIP”) coverage with limits of $35, 000. Allstate issued Allstate Insurance Policy No. 920103578 to Larry A. & Debbie E. Hulse; the Allstate policy as it was in effect at the time of the accident, included UIM coverage with limits of $100, 000 per person for bodily injury and PIP coverage with limits of $35, 000.

         In this lawsuit, in addition to seeking UIM benefits from State Farm and Allstate, plaintiff has also asserted extra contractual claims against both defendants allegedly arising out of their handling of plaintiff's claims for UIM benefits. State Farm and Allstate allege that there is a dispute as to the proximate cause, nature, extent and value of plaintiff's claimed injuries and damages as a result of the August 18, 2013 accident, and both defendants deny that they breached their respective contracts and deny all the extra-contractual claims asserted by plaintiff.

         As noted in the parties' Joint Status Report, Dkt# 14, all parties have stipulated and agree that plaintiff's claim for UIM benefits for the August 18, 2013 auto accident should be resolved first, before the parties or the Court spend any time or money on discovery and litigation of plaintiff's extra contractual claims. Neither plaintiff nor defendants want to incur the potentially unnecessary expense of retaining experts and conducting discovery with respect to plaintiff's extra-contractual claims until plaintiff's claim for UIM benefits is resolved.

         III. STATEMENT OF ISSUE

         Should the Court enter an order granting the parties' stipulated motion to bifurcate and stay plaintiff's extra contractual claims for damages until her claim for UIM benefits has been fully resolved?

         IV. EVIDENCE RELIED UPON

         This motion is made pursuant to W.D. Wash. LCR 10(g), and is based on the prior pleadings filed herein, including the Notice of Removal (Dkt. #1), Allstate's Answer (Dkt.#9), State Farm's Answer (Dkt.#12), and the Joint Status Report (Dkt. #14), and Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(b).

         V. LEGAL ...


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