United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
FREDERICK HEATHER and DAWN WASELL-HEATHER, a married couple, Plaintiffs,
ALLSTATE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for
partial summary judgment (Dkt. No. 39) and Defendant's
motion for clarification (Dkt. No. 49). Having thoroughly
considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record,
the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS
in part and DENIES in part Plaintiff's motion for partial
summary judgment (Dkt. No. 39) and GRANTS Defendant's
motion for clarification (Dkt. No. 49) for the reasons
had a homeowner's insurance policy with Defendant, which
was in effect during the events at issue. (Dkt. No. 40 at
9-13.) Under the policy, Defendant is required to
“settle within 30 days after the amount of loss is
finally determined, ” whether “by an agreement
between [Defendant] and [Plaintiffs], an appraisal award or a
court judgment.” (Id. at 13.) On August 23,
2016, Plaintiffs' home and belongings were destroyed in a
fire. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 2-3.) Plaintiffs retained a public
adjuster to handle interactions with Defendant. (Dkt. No. 22
at 2.) On January 13, 2017, almost five months after the
fire, Defendant issued a payment for damage to the structure.
(Dkt. No. 40 at 98.)
public adjuster submitted an inventory of Plaintiffs'
lost belongings on March 15, 2017. (Id. at 37.)
Plaintiffs submitted an executed proof of loss with the
inventory. (Dkt. No. 25 at 11.) On May 16, 2017, Defendant
provided Plaintiffs an actual cash value (“ACV”)
estimate of $151, 998.90, approximately $60, 000 less than
Plaintiffs' proof of loss. (See Id. at 11,
26-27; Dkt. No. 40 at 32.) In September 2017, Plaintiffs
provided Defendant additional pricing information related to
their inventory and proof of loss. (See Dkt. No. 40
Defendant's representatives noted that they must identify
the items in Plaintiffs' inventory that Defendants did
not adjust and inform Plaintiffs why those items were
rejected. (Id. at 25.) On October 3, 2017,
Plaintiffs' public adjuster requested Defendant provide
an explanation for why its estimate was lower than
Plaintiffs' inventory and proof of loss. (See
Dkt. No. 40 at 35.) Defendant instead instructed Plaintiffs
to review Defendant's inventory and identify any issues
with the items or pricing. (Id. at 128.)
Plaintiff's adjuster insisted that it was Defendant's
obligation to provide a reasonable explanation, but
Defendants responded that “[o]ur estimate is our
explanation.” (Id. at 40-42.) On November 9,
2017, and December 22, 2017, Plaintiffs' public adjustor
repeated his request that Defendant provide an explanation of
the estimate. (Id. at 36-38.) Again, Defendant
stated that its estimate would serve as its explanation.
(Id. at 130.)
February 21, 2018, Plaintiffs' counsel requested that
Defendant identify any items for which it had denied benefits
or disputed the value submitted by Plaintiffs. (Id.
at 44-45.) Defendant did not substantively respond.
(Id. at 47.) On March 28, 2018, Plaintiffs'
counsel reiterated the request for a detailed explanation.
(Id. at 49.) Defendant again stated that its
estimate would serve as its explanation. (Id. at
51.) Defendant once again suggested that if Plaintiffs
disagreed with the estimate, they should “indicate any
items where [they] feel our valuation is incorrect” or
where they “feel payment was denied.”
(Id.) On April 12, 2018, Plaintiffs' counsel
made a final request for explanation, to which Defendant did
not respond. (Id. at 53.) On June 4, 2018,
Plaintiffs filed an Insurance Fair Conduct Act
(“IFCA”) notice. (Dkt. No. 25 at 52.)
insurance policy provides for an appraisal process to resolve
disagreements as to the amount of a loss. (See Dkt.
No. 23-1 at 1.) On June 6, 2018, Plaintiffs requested an
appraisal of the contents of their home that were destroyed
in the fire. (Dkt. No. 22 at 2.) In December 2018, the
appraisal panel rendered a unanimous decision, finding that
ACV for the contents of the home was $191, 862.15. (Dkt. No.
23-2 at 1.) In January 2019, Defendant made a payment of $18,
386.15, apparently deducting a prior payment from the amount
due. (Dkt. No. 40 at 119.) This left a shortfall of $19,
043.11. (Id. at 76.) On August 14, 2019, Plaintiffs
deposed Alisha Jensen, Defendant's contents adjuster, and
questioned her about Defendant's failure to pay the full
amount of the contents appraisal award. (Id. at
21-22.) On August 20, 2019, Jensen sent a letter on behalf of
Defendant apologizing for “an error in
calculation” and enclosing an additional payment of
$19, 043.11. (Id. at 76.)
move for summary judgment on Defendant's liability for
three alleged instances of misconduct, reserving issues of
causation and damages for trial. (Dkt. No. 39.) Defendant
moves for clarification of the Court's order for
production of a privilege log. (Dkt. No. 49.)
court shall grant summary judgment 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). In making such a determination, the Court
must view the facts and justifiable inferences to be drawn
therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986). Once a motion for summary judgment is
properly made and supported, the opposing party “must
come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the
case, and a dispute about a material fact is genuine if there
is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248-49. Conclusory, non-specific statements in affidavits
are not sufficient, and “missing facts” will not
be “presumed.” Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife
Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990). Ultimately,
summary judgment is appropriate against a party who
“fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 324 (1986).
Failure to Pay Appraisal Award