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Northwest Pipe Co. v. RLI Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 16, 2014

NORTHWEST PIPE COMPANY, fka NORTHWEST PIPE & CASING COMPANY, an Oregon corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
RLI INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, and EMPLOYERS INSURANCE COMPANY OF WAUSAU, a Wisconsin corporation, Defendants. EMPLOYERS INSURANCE COMPANY OF WAUSAU, a Wisconsin corporation, Counter-Claimant,
v.
NORTHWEST PIPE COMPANY, fka NORTHWEST PIPE & CASING COMPANY, an Oregon corporation, Counter-Defendant. RLI INSURANCE COMPANY, an Illinois corporation, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
ACE FIRE UNDERWRITERS INSURANCE COMPANY, a Pennsylvania company, and ACE PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, a Pennsylvania Company, Third-Party Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion (#293) Re Proposed Form of Judgment of Defendants ACE Fire Underwriters Insurance Company and ACE Property and Casualty Insurance Company (collectively referred to herein as ACE) and Employers Insurance Company of Wausau.

For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS ACE and Wausau's Motion.

BACKGROUND

The Court previously ruled Defendant RLI Insurance Company has a duty to defend Plaintiff Northwest Pipe and is required to pay 43.27% of Northwest Pipe's reasonable and necessary defense costs. Order (#62) issued Aug. 12, 2010; Order (#169) issued Jun. 13, 2012, and Order (#233) issued July 11, 2013.

Pursuant to Order (#253), the Court ruled:

1. RLI's share of the reasonable and necessary defense costs incurred by Wausau and ACE as of December 1, 2012.
2. As of December 1, 2012, Wausau incurred $2, 030, 573.86 and ACE incurred $2, 310, 673.78 in reasonable and necessary defense costs.
3. Pursuant to the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Interstate Fire & Cas. Co. v. Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, 139 F.3d 1234 (9th Cir. 1998), RLI is obligated to pay prejudgment interest on the defense costs that it owes to Wausau and ACE.

The Court also directed Wausau and ACE to file a form of judgment at the conclusion of trial on the limited issue of the commercial availability of insurance coverage without absolute pollution exclusions. Order (#253). Pursuant to Stipulation (#263), however, the parties resolved that dispute prior to trial. Subsequently, ACE and Wausau filed Motion (#293) on March 3, 2014, seeking entry of a Proposed Judgment (#293-3) as to RLI's obligation to reimburse ACE and Wausau for its proportional share of defense costs and for prejudgment interest on those amounts.

STANDARDS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides:

When an action presents more than one claim for relief... or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.

Pursuant to Rule 54(b), when the court has entered a final judgment as to a particular claim, the court may sever this partial judgment from the remaining claims and, therefore, make that judgment immediately appealable if the court finds there is "no just reason for delay." James v. Price Stern Sloan, Inc., 283 F.3d 1064, 1068 n.6 (9th Cir. 2002). Because severance under Rule 54(b) is consistent with 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291 and only a final judgment may be severed, the district court has wide discretion to determine whether any just reasons for delay exist. The "issuance of a Rule 54(b) order is a fairly routine act that is reversed only in the rarest instances." Id. (the appellate court "accords a great deference to the district [court's]" determination of finality.). See also ...


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