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The Future of Blind Arbitration in Washington – February 2013

As most of us know, a number of insurance policies contain arbitration provisions. These provisions are most commonly found in auto policies and are particularly prevalent in UIM and PIP coverages. Although there are a number of trial court decisions regarding how these provisions work, published case law involving the application of these provisions in insurance claims is limited. On January 17, 2013, the Washington Supreme Court issued its opinion in Washington State Department of Transportation v. James River Ins. Co., 2013 Wash. LEXIS 66. In this opinion, the Court addressed whether a binding arbitration provision was void as being against public policy under RCW 48.18.200. Specifically, RCW 48.18.200(1)(b) states that an insurance policy cannot be written to divest the Courts of the State of Washington of jurisdiction over an action against the insurer. The issue in the WSDOT case was whether James River’s binding arbitration provision violated that statute. The controlling factual issue was that the binding arbitration provision in question was one-sided. In other words, the provision did not require mutual assent or agreement before arbitration became mandatory under the policy. The Washington Supreme Court found that such a provision is unenforceable.

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Robert E. Nesbitt v. Progressive Northwester Insurance Company

Background – Plaintiff “concede[d], for the purpose of this summary judgment motion only, most of the factual allegations set forth in Progressive’s motion,” except for “any allegation or assertion that states or implies, that in paying the $10,000 in PIP coverage and $25,000 in UIM coverage under Mercedes-Benzs policy, [Progressive] discharged Progressive’s contractual obligations under the policy it issued on the Mitsubishi Montero.”

Plaintiff is a Washington resident. He owns two vehicles, a 1987 Mercedes-Benz and a 1995 Mitsubishi–both of which are insured by Defendant under a common policy. The policy contains a PIP coverage limit of $10,000 and a UIM coverage limit of “$25,000 each person/$50,000 each accident.”

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Baldwin v. Silver v. Farmers Ins. of WA

Opinion – Sweeney, J. — Ultimately, the parties to this suit are the homeowners and their insurance company. The suit follows a fire loss. A contractor sued the homeowners and their insurance company for failing to pay for a contractor’s repair work. The insurance company issued a check directly to the homeowners. The homeowners cashed the check but did not pay the contractor. So the insurance company wound up paying the contractor. The homeowners, nonetheless, sued the insurance company and alleged a number of causes of action. The superior court rejected all of them and summarily dismissed the homeowners’ suit. The superior court was correct and we affirm the summary dismissal.

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Cardenas v. Navigators Ins. Co.


This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Navigators Insurance Company’s motion for partial summary judgment requesting dismissal of Plaintiff’s extra-contractual claims. Dkt. 12. Plaintiffs Dan Cardenas and Donna Cardenas dba A & D Construction & Roofing move for a continuance of the motion for summary judgment to allow further discovery. Dkt. 18. The Court has considered the pleadings in support and in opposition to the motions and the record herein.

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