Hawthorne v. Mid-Continent Casualty Company, Oklahoma Surety Company

Filing 38

ORDER denying without prejudice to refiling at a later date Plaintiff's 24 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; granting Defendant's 30 Motion for Relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d), by Judge Robert S. Lasnik. (SWT)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 10 PATRICIA S. HAWTHORNE, individually and as assignee of Oklahoma Court Services, Inc., Case No. C16-1948RSL Plaintiff, 11 12 13 14 15 v. MID-CONTINENT CASUALTY COMPANY, OKLAHOMA SURETY COMPANY, an Oklahoma Insurance Company, ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANT’S REQUEST FOR RELIEF UNDER RULE 56(d) Defendant. 16 17 This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Patricia S. Hawthorne’s motion for partial 18 summary judgment (Dkt. # 24), and on defendant Oklahoma Surety Company’s request for relief 19 under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) (Dkt. # 30). Having considered the parties’ briefing and the 20 remainder of the record, the Court finds as follows. 21 On November 23, 2016, acting in her individual capacity and as assignee of various 22 insurance claims, plaintiff filed this action in King County Superior Court against Oklahoma 23 Surety Company for bad faith, violation of Washington’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, and breach 24 of the contractual duties to defend, settle, and indemnify. Dkt. # 1-1. On December 21, 2016, 25 defendant removed this case to federal court, Dkt. # 1, and shortly thereafter moved to dismiss 26 the case for lack of personal jurisdiction, Dkt. # 9. That motion is still pending before this Court. 27 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANT’S REQUEST FOR RELIEF UNDER RULE 56(d) - 1 28 1 On February 16, 2016, plaintiff filed this motion for partial summary judgment. Dkt. 2 # 24. Plaintiff seeks a ruling that, as a matter of law, defendant – an insurance company – 3 breached its contractual duty to defend its insured in a lawsuit filed in King County Superior 4 Court, and that this breach constitutes bad faith. 5 On March 6, 2017, defendant filed both an opposition to plaintiff’s motion for partial 6 summary judgment, Dkt. # 27, and a motion for relief pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). The 7 motion for relief seeks relief from plaintiff’s motion until after a ruling on defendant’s pending 8 motion to dismiss or, if that motion is denied, after the close of discovery, Dkt. # 30. At this 9 time, discovery is scheduled to be completed by October 8, 2017. See Dkt. # 17. 10 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) provides that if a “nonmovant shows by affidavit or 11 declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, 12 the court may . . . defer considering the motion [for summary judgment] or deny it . . . .” Rule 13 56(d) “provides a device for litigants to avoid summary judgment when they have not had 14 sufficient time to develop affirmative evidence.” United States v. Kitsap Physicians Serv., 314 15 F.3d 995, 1000 (9th Cir. 2002). To obtain relief under Rule 56(d), a party must show “(1) that 16 they have set forth in affidavit form the specific facts that they hope to elicit from further 17 discovery, (2) that the facts sought exist, and (3) that these sought-after facts are ‘essential’ to 18 resist the summary judgment motion.” State of California v. Campbell, 138 F.3d 772, 779 (9th 19 Cir. 1998). 20 An attorney for defendant filed a declaration and several exhibits in support of 21 defendant’s request for Rule 56(d) relief. Dkt. ## 31, 37. These filings make clear that summary 22 judgment is inappropriate at this time. First of all, consideration of plaintiff’s motion for 23 summary judgment before resolution of defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal 24 jurisdiction would be premature. Next, if plaintiff’s case survives that motion to dismiss (and if 25 the existence of a related coverage action in Oklahoma state court does not otherwise compel 26 27 28 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANT’S REQUEST FOR RELIEF UNDER RULE 56(d) - 2 1 dismissal or stay of this action), defendant will need to respond to plaintiff’s amended complaint. 2 Moreover, discovery would be needed to clarify several fact issues that are essential to the 3 resolution of plaintiff’s bad faith claim – specifically, the relationships between the parties and 4 the other insurance entities involved in this case, and the circumstances of the denial of 5 coverage. Defendant has asserted that it intends to depose employees of the insured entity in 6 addition to conducting written discovery. Dkt. ## 31, 37. These facts are essential to allow the 7 government to oppose summary judgment. See Campbell, 138 F.3d at 779. Defendant has met 8 the standards to obtain relief under Rule 56(d). 9 10 For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment (Dkt. # 24) is 11 DENIED without prejudice to refiling at a later date, after the parties have had an opportunity to 12 conduct discovery. Defendant’s motion for relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) (Dkt. # 30) is 13 GRANTED. 14 15 DATED this 4th day of April, 2017. 16 17 18 A Robert S. Lasnik United States District Judge 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANT’S REQUEST FOR RELIEF UNDER RULE 56(d) - 3

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