United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
LARRY W. THOMAS and JUDITH A.THOMAS, Plaintiffs,
FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Terence C. Kern, United States District Judge.
the court is the Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Related
Nontaxable Expenses (Doc. 157) filed by defendant Farmers
Insurance Company, Inc. (“Farmers”). Farmers
seeks $344, 447.50 in attorneys fees and related nontaxable
expenses in the amount of $35, 933.72.Plaintiffs Larry
W. Thomas and Judith A. Thomas oppose the motion.
issued to Plaintiffs a homeowners' insurance policy which
included an Earthquake Endorsement that provided coverage to
their property in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, for “direct
physical loss or damage caused by earthquake.” On
November 14, 2014, Plaintiffs submitted a claim to Farmers
under the Policy, asserting that their residence and personal
property were damaged by an earthquake that had occurred two
days earlier. Farmers denied the claim on December 23, 2014,
because it determined that the alleged damage to the house
was caused by settling under the foundation rather than
receiving notice of Farmer's denial of the earthquake
claim, Plaintiffs reported a claim for a plumbing leak. In a
letter dated January 7, 2015, Farmers concluded the leak was
from the hot water tank. As a result, Farmers denied coverage
for the slab settling, rusted duct work and clogged drain
line. It extended coverage for the cleaning of the duct and
plenum, but its estimate for the cleaning fell below
March 2015, Plaintiffs hired an engineer and sought a
reevaluation of their earthquake claim. By way of a letter
dated April 15, 2015, Farmers again denied the claim. On
April 8, 2015, Plaintiffs provided additional documents to
Farmers. On April 16, 2015, Farmers sent Plaintiffs a letter
concerning the plumbing claim, and-based on the additional
documents Plaintiffs had provided-determined there was a leak
in the drain line running from the utility closet out the
side of the home. Farmers extended coverage to access and
egress the slab to make the necessary repairs, but concluded
the pipe and the settling caused by the leak were excluded
from coverage. Farmers issued payment to Plaintiffs in the
amount of $5, 365.78 to access and egress the slab to make
the necessary repair and reimbursements.
10, 2015, Plaintiffs reported additional damage and requested
reinspection of their home. Michael Young, who performed the
reinspection on July 17, 2015, concluded there was additional
damage to the dwelling not present during the initial
inspection. On August 19, 2015, he notified Plaintiffs that
Farmers had concluded “the home suffered earthquake
damage to the hot water tank closet slab” and that this
was a covered loss under the earthquake endorsement, but the
remaining damaged portions of the dwelling were a result of
settling. No. payment was made because Farmers' estimate
was less than Plaintiffs' deductible.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Farmers in Tulsa County
District Court on November 6, 2015. On January 11, 2016,
Farmers removed the case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1332 and 1446. Doc. 2.
February 5, 2018, Farmers made a written offer to Plaintiffs
for settlement of all claims pursuant to 36 Okla. Stat.
§3629 and subject to Fed.R.Evid. 408. The offer was the
highest written offer Farmers made to resolve the claims.
Plaintiffs rejected the offer.
initial denial of Plaintiffs' earthquake claim, its
initial decision that coverage for Plaintiff's water
damage loss claim was below the policy deductible, all other
claim decisions made after Plaintiffs requested
reconsideration, reinspection or consideration of additional
documents submitted, were each made within 90 days of the
claim submissions, requests or documents submissions. At no
time did Farmers fail to offer to settle or reject any of
Plaintiffs' claims within ninety days of the receipt of
the claim or Plaintiffs' request to reopen such claim.
filed suit against Farmers in Tulsa County District Court on
November 6, 2015, asserting claims for breach of contract and
bad faith and unfair dealing. (Doc. 2). Farmers removed the
case to this Court on January 11, 2016. Id. The case
was tried to a jury April 9-13, 2018. The jury found in favor
the Farmers and against Plaintiffs on both claims, and the
Court entered judgment in favor of Farmers. (Docs. 153-154).
Defendant's Motion for Attorneys' Fees
14 days after the entry of judgment, a prevailing party may
file a motion for attorney's fees and related nontaxable
expenses. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2). The motion must specify the
judgment and the statute, rule or other grounds entitling the
movant to the award. Id.
timely filed its motion, citing 6 O.S. § 3629(B), which
permits the prevailing party in an insurance coverage dispute
to an award of costs and attorney fee. Farmers seeks
attorneys' fees ...