United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
STANLEY A. BASTIAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant's Second Motion for Summary
Judgment, ECF No. 23. The motion was heard without oral
argument. Plaintiff is represented by Robb Grangroth.
Defendant is represented by Patrick Cronin.
the Court denied Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment,
finding questions of material fact existed regarding whether
JoAnn Bargel made the requisite payments or whether Defendant
was justified in terminating her policy. ECF No. 19. After
the Order was issued, Defendant sought discovery on the
amount of payment. Defendant now asserts and Plaintiff does
not deny that $2, 000, not $4, 000, was paid on the policy in
September 2017. ECF No. 25. As a result, Defendant moves for
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). There is no genuine
issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring
the non-moving party for a jury to return a verdict in that
party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The moving party has the initial
burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of fact for
trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325
(1986). If the moving party meets its initial burden, the
non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and “set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
addition to showing there are no questions of material fact,
the moving party must also show it is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Smith v. Univ. of Wash. Law Sch.,
233 F.3d 1188, 1193 (9th Cir. 2000). The moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the non-moving
party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential
element of a claim on which the non-moving party has the
burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The
non-moving party cannot rely on conclusory allegations alone
to create an issue of material fact. Hansen v. United
States, 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th Cir. 1993).
considering a motion for summary judgment, a court may
neither weigh the evidence nor assess credibility; instead,
“the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and
all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his
favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
of Insurance Contract
federal court sitting in diversity looks to the forum
state's choice of law rules to determine the controlling
substantive law. Patton v. Cox, 276 F.3d 493, 495
(9th Cir. 2002). Under Washington law, insurance policies are
construed as contracts, and interpretation of policies is a
matter of law. State Farm Gen. Ins. Co. v. Emerson,
102 Wash.2d 477, 480 (1984). Policies are to “be given
a fair, reasonable, and sensible construction” that
comports with how the average purchaser of insurance would
view the policy. Grange Ins. Co. v. Brosseau, 113
Wash.2d 91, 95 (1989) (quotation omitted).
court must enforce clear and unambiguous policy language as
written; it may not modify the policy or create ambiguity
where none exists. Quadrant Corp. v. Am. States Ins.
Co., 154 Wash.2d 165, 171 (2005). The expectations of
the insured cannot override the plain language of the
contract. Id. at 172. Any ambiguities are construed
in favor of the insured; but a clause is ambiguous only
“when, on its face, it is fairly susceptible to two
different interpretations, both of which are
reasonable.” Id. at 171 (citation omitted).
action is a lawsuit for benefits under a life insurance
policy that was issued to Plaintiff's mother, JoAnn
Bargel, in 1990. Plaintiff is the beneficiary. JoAnn Bargel
died shortly after Defendant denied her application for
reinstatement after it terminated the policy for failure of
type of life insurance that was purchased by Plaintiff's
mother was a “Flexible Premium Universal Life”
policy. ECF No. 23. Plaintiff purchased her policy in 1990.
The Data Page had the following explanation:
*1 If sufficient premiums are paid, this policy provides life
insurance protection on the insured until the maturity date,
which is the policy anniversary following the birthday on
which the insured attains age 95. You may have to pay other
than the planned periodic premium shown above to keep this
policy and coverage in force to that date, and to keep any
additional benefit riders in force.
ECF No. 23.
policy contained provisions relating to premium payments and
maintaining coverage under the policy:
âPremium Payments and Reinstatement”
Your Policy is effective and your first premium is due on the
policy date. After that, premiums may be paid at any time
while this policy is in force and in any amounts subject to
the Premium Payment Limits ...