Court Holds that Bicyclist is a “Pedestrian” for Purpose of Coverage

McLaughlin v. Travelers Comm. Ins. Co., Wash. Supreme Court (Dec. 10, 2020).

This case deals with whether the plaintiff, while riding his bicycle at the time of the accident, was a “pedestrian” under his California auto insurance policy’s MedPay coverage. “Pedestrian” was not defined by the policy. RCW 48.22.005(11) defines “pedestrian” for purpose of casualty insurance as “a natural person not occupying a motor vehicle as defined in RCW 46.04.320.” Since McLaughlin’s bicycle did not have a motor, he was deemed a “pedestrian.” The Court discussed the Court of Appeals approach to “harmonize” the definition of “pedestrian” in RCW 48.22.005(11) with RCW 46.04.400. The latter statute expressly excludes bicyclists from the definition of “pedestrian.” RCW 48.22.005(11), applies to casualty insurance, however, and RCW 46.04 has limiting language that definitions in that chapter apply to that chapter, “except where otherwise defined,” so RCW 48.22.005(11) was determined to be the appropriate definition to apply in this case.

The Court discussed that even if the definition of “pedestrian” in RCW 48.22.005(11) was not applied, the term “pedestrian” in the policy is ambiguous, and resolved in favor of the insured.

Judgment Established Substantial Interest in Quiet Title Action

Flint v. Allstate Ins. Co., Unpublished Division One Opinion (March 4, 2019).

The Flints filed for quiet title against Allstate and its insured based on adverse possession, and recorded a lis pendens against the insured’s property. Allstate was then dismissed under a CR 41(a) motion filed by the Flints, but intervened in the quiet title action under CR 24.

In a different lawsuit, the insured had sued Allstate for breach of an insurance policy. Allstate received a Final judgment in its favor, awarding Allstate damages against the insured for just under $360,000.

In the quiet title action, the trial court entered an order denying Allstate’s MSJ, finding Allstate did not have standing to challenge the Flint’s adverse possession claim. The Flint’s MSJ for quiet title to the insured’s property was granted.

Allstate appealed, contending it has standing in the quiet title action. Division One found that though Allstate does not have a lien against the insured’s property, its Judgment for almost $360,000 establishes a “substantial interest” in the outcome of the quiet title action. Division One reversed the trial court’s decision that Allstate did not have standing and vacated the order of quiet title.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Soha & Lang, P.S. or its clients.

Sufficient Evidence Existed of Requisite Antecedent Agreement for Purpose of Insured’s Reformation Claim

In Emrys v. Farmers Ins. Co., 294 Or App 107, __ P3d ___ (Sept. 12, 2018), the insured owned two adjacent properties, with addresses at 106 Cofey Crossing Lane (“106 Property”) and 108 Cofey Crossing Lane (“108 Property”), insured under two separate policies.  The insured let the policy for the 106 Property lapse.  After the insured’s death, the estate’s personal representative learned of the properties and informed the insurer she wanted to continue the existing policy.  After a fire loss at the 106 Property, the insurer denied the claim because it had only issued coverage for the 108 Property.  The personal representative filed a lawsuit seeking to reform the policy to include the 106 Property.  On remand from a prior appeal,[1] the trial court concluded that the reformation claim failed because there was no showing of the requisite antecedent agreement.  The Court of Appeals reversed.  The appellate court exercised its power to review the case de novo because, among other things, the matter was on appeal for the second time on virtually the same issue. The Court of Appeals found that, on the undisputed facts, the parties had reached an antecedent agreement to insure the 106 Property and, therefore, reform was warranted.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Soha and Lang, P.S. or its clients.

[1] See Emrys v. Farmers Ins. Co., 275 Or App 691, 365 P3d 1119 (2015).

Service on Foreign Insurer Must be Through the Insurance Commissioner, and Only the Insurance Commissioner

In Ohio Security Ins. Co. v. Axis Ins. Co., No. 94677-9, the Washington Supreme Court, on a certified question from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, confirms that Washington law establishes that service through the Washington State Insurance Commissioner is the exclusive means of service for authorized foreign insures in Washington. The Court reaches this  conclusion based on the plain language, and legislative intent, of RCW 4.28.080(7)(a) and RCW 48.05.200(1).

If you have any questions regarding this case, please do not hesitate to contact Soha & Lang, P.S.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Soha and Lang, P.S. or its clients