By Bryan Graff
Updating our article from July 2015 (An Erroneous Judicial Narrowing of Washington’s Insurance Fair Conduct Act), a strong majority of the federal court judges in Washington who have considered the issue have now held that claims under Washington’s Insurance Fair Conduct Act (“IFCA”) are available to first-party claimants under either first-party or third-party insurance contracts.
Judge Coughenour has so held on two occasions. Hopkins v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. C15-2014-JCC, 2017 WL 881373 (W.D. Wash. Mar. 6, 2017); Navigators Specialty Ins. Co. v. Christensen Inc., 140 F. Supp. 3d 1097 (W.D. Wash. 2015). In addition, Judge Peterson, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Washington, agreed in Workland & Witherspoon, PLLC v. Evanston Ins. Co., 141 F. Supp. 3d 1148, 1151 (E.D. Wash. 2015), stating “IFCA does not distinguish between first- and third-party coverage, instead creating a cause of action for any entity ‘asserting a right to payment under an insurance policy.’” These judges join earlier decisions by Judges Jones and Lasnik in holding that an IFCA claim can be maintained under a third-party liability policy. See Cedar Grove Composting Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Ins. Co., No. C14-1443RAJ, 2015 WL 3473465 (W.D. Wash. June 2, 2015); City of Bothell v. Berkley Reg’l Specialty Ins. Co., No. C14-0791RSL, 2014 WL 5110485 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 10, 2014).
This presently leaves Judge Pechman has the lone contrarian voice among the federal court judges in Washington who have addressed the issue. Washington appellate courts have yet to weigh-in.
This message has been released by the Insurance Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.