Trofimovich et al v. Progressive Direct Insurance Company

Filing 42

ORDER denying Plaintiffs' 41 Motion for Reconsideration re 34 Order on Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour.(TH)

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THE HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 10 DANIIL TROFIMOVICH and BRITTANY TROFIMOVICH, husband and wife, and their marital community, 11 14 ORDER Plaintiff, v. 12 13 CASE NO. C16-1510-JCC PROGRESSIVE DIRECT INSURANCE COMPANY, a foreign insurance company, Defendant. 15 16 This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration of the 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Court’s order finding in favor of Defendant on parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 34). Having thoroughly considered the parties’ briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons explained herein. A. Background Plaintiff Daniil Trofimovich is a Lyft driver who had automobile insurance coverage through Defendant Progressive Direct Insurance Company (“Progressive”). Trofimovich was in an automobile accident in June 2016. He first indicated to Progressive representatives that was working for Lyft at the time and had a passenger in his car; he later stated that he was not ORDER C15-1510-JCC PAGE - 1 1 working because the passenger was not a paying customer. Progressive initially determined 2 Trofimovich was working at the time of the accident and denied coverage under the terms of his 3 policy. (See Dkt. No. 34 at 1-3.) The Court ruled in Progressive’s favor on cross-motions for 4 summary judgment, dismissing Trofimovich’s bath faith, breach of contract, Washington 5 Consumer Protection Act (“WCPA”), and Washington Insurance Fair Contact claims. (Dkt. No. 6 34). Trofimovich now moves for reconsideration. 7 B. Legal Standard 8 Plaintiffs label this as a motion for reconsideration; treated as such, the motion would be 9 untimely under Local Rule 7(h). However, Plaintiffs make their argument under Federal Rule of 10 Civil Procedure 59(e). (See Dkt. No. 41 at 2.) As the motion is timely under Rule 59(e), the 11 Court construes the request as a motion to amend judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). 12 “A district court has considerable discretion when considering a motion to amend 13 judgment under Rule 59(e).” Turner v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 14 1063 (9th Cir. 2003). A Rule 59(e) motion may be granted where one of the following is 15 established: 1) the motion is “necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which the 16 judgment is based”; 2) the moving party presents “newly discovered or previously unavailable 17 evidence”; 3) the motion is necessary to “prevent manifest injustice”; or 4) there is an 18 “intervening change in controlling law.” Id. 1 Because Plaintiffs do not allege any newly 19 discovered evidence, change in law, or manifest injustice, the Court will consider whether there 20 was manifest error in ruling in Defendant’s favor on cross-motions for summary judgment. 21 C. Discussion 22 The Court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims on summary judgment rested on its finding 23 24 25 26 1 Similarly, motions for reconsideration are disfavored in this District. Local Civ. R. 7(h). “The court will ordinarily deny such motions in the absence of a showing of manifest error in the prior ruling or a showing of new facts or legal authority which could not have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable diligence.” Id. ORDER C15-1510-JCC PAGE - 2 1 that Progressive’s initial denial of Trofimovich’s insurance claim was reasonable as a matter of 2 law. (Dkt. No. 34). Plaintiffs allege manifest error in the Court’s analysis of facts concerning 3 evidence available to Progressive when it denied Trofimovich’s claim, Progressive’s failure to 4 respond to Trofimovich’s communication after the initial denial of coverage, and Washington 5 law regarding Progressive’s duty to investigate the claim. (Id. at 2-3.) 6 Plaintiffs argue that given the balance of pre-denial evidence before Progressive and 7 available opportunities to obtain more information, the insurer had an affirmative legal duty to 8 further investigate before denying his claim. (Dkt. No. 31 at 3.) Plaintiffs conclude that based on 9 these facts, a reasonable juror could find that Progressive acted unreasonably, and thus the Court 10 11 erred in granting summary judgment. (Id.) Plaintiffs portray Progressive’s pre-denial claim file as containing Trofimovich’s 12 explanation that he had no paying customer when the accident occurred, a statement from his 13 passenger to the same effect, and a screenshot showing no paying fares at the time in question. 14 (Id.) Plaintiffs assert that the Court committed error in balancing this evidence and note that the 15 Court’s order does not reference the passenger’s corroborative statement to Progressive. (Id. at 16 1.) However, the passenger’s alleged statement is not cited to in this motion or referenced in 17 Plaintiff’s briefing. Furthermore, the Court previously indicated that the screenshot in the record 18 did not actually show ride information from the time of the accident, and the case file also 19 contained Trofimovich’s statement at the accident scene that he had a passenger in the car. (Dkt. 20 No. 34 at 2, 3.) Plaintiffs discount this statement as “misinterpretation.” (Dkt. No. 41 at 3.) 21 Whether or not Progressive’s interpretation of the evidence was correct is not the issue. 22 Rather, the Court asked if it was reasonable for Progressive to deny Trofimovich’s claim based 23 on this evidence and without further investigation. See Smith v. Safeco Ins. Co., 78 P.3d 1274, 24 1278 (Wash. 2003) (reasonableness of insurance claim denial can be decided as a matter of law 25 where the insurer “can point to a reasonable basis for its action”). Plaintiffs repeat the argument 26 that given “the balance of evidence [favoring] coverage,” reasonable minds could differ as to ORDER C15-1510-JCC PAGE - 3 1 whether denying coverage without further inquiry was reasonable, creating an issue of fact for 2 trial. (Dkt. No. 41 at 3.) However, the Court examined Trofimovich’s evidence and found 3 Progressive had a reasonable basis for denying his claim and thus had no legal duty to seek 4 additional information. (Dkt. No. 34 at 5.) Washington case law supports dismissal of Plaintiffs’ 5 claims on summary judgement on this basis. See Smith, 78 P.3d at 1277. The Court also 6 dismissed Plaintiffs’ WCPA claims on the same finding that Progressive had a “reasonable 7 justification for denying coverage.” See Keller v. Allstate Ins. Co., 915 P.2d 1140 (Wash. Ct. 8 App. 1996). Plaintiffs do not point to a specific error of law on these points. 9 Plaintiffs’ motion raises no manifest errors of fact or law that would require the Court to 10 amend its judgment. Plaintiffs’ claims are merely relitigation of issues the Court has already 11 decided. Challenges such as these are properly argued on appeal, not in a Rule 59(e) motion. The 12 motion is DENIED. 13 DATED this 19th day of September, 2017. A 14 15 16 John C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 ORDER C15-1510-JCC PAGE - 4

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