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Beck v. Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

July 6, 2015

LUCILLE BECK, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
METROPOLITAN PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, a corporation, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN V. ACOSTA, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Lucille Beck ("Beck") filed this action against Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company ("Metropolitan") for breach of an insurance policy on her home, which was severely damaged in a fire. The parties dispute whether Metropolitan's tender of $347, 786.34 constitutes the Actual Cash Value ("ACV") of Beck's home, to which Beck was entitled under the insurance policy ("the Policy"). The parties have now filed cross-motions for partial summary judgment. Beck contends she is entitled to summary judgment on the question of whether Metropolitan breached the Policy as a matter of law. She contends that the jury at trial should be instructed that Metropolitan breached the Policy and should be tasked only with determining the ACV of her home. She also moves for summary judgment on her request for attorney fees. Metropolitan filed its own motion for partial summary judgment and asks the court to hold that Beck is contractually foreclosed from recovering the Replacement Cost Value ("RCV") of her house.

After careful review of the record, the court concludes that Beck is entitled to partial summary judgment, as no material issues of material fact exist and Beck has demonstrated that Metropolitan breached the Policy as a matter of law. In addition, because Metropolitan did not settle her claim within six months of the date she filed it, she is entitled to attorney fees as a matter of law. Finally, the court concludes Metropolitan is not entitled to partial summary judgment, as genuine issue of material fact remain regarding the issues Metropolitan presents in its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.[1]

Factual Background

On December 20, 2011, Beck's Christmas tree caught fire and severely damaged her home. Beck immediately notified Metropolitan, with whom she had a homeowner's insurance policy ("the Policy"), and filed a claim. (Declaration of Margaret E. Schroeder filed September 23, 2014, ("Schroeder Decl. I") Ex. A at 6-7, 21.) The Policy provides in relevant part:

A. Actual Cash Value Settlement. Subject to the applicable deductible, we will pay the actual cash value at the time of the loss for the damaged property, but no more than the lesser of:
(i.) The amount required to repair or replace the damaged property with property of like kind and quality; or
(ii.) The limit of liability applying to the property.
...
2. If you repair or replace the damaged or destroyed property, you may make further claim for any additional payments for Replacement Cost Settlement provided:
a. you have not reached the applicable limit of liability;
b. you still have an insurable interest in the property;
c. you notify us within 180 days after the date of the actual cash value payment of your decision to repair or replace the damaged or destroyed dwelling or private structure;
d. you notify us within 30 days after the repair or replacement has been completed; and
e. the date of completion is within one year from the date of actual ...

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